Solar Initiative at 250 MW

By Published On: May 2, 2008

Of the 3,000 MW the state has targeted for solar energy by 2016, 249.3 MW are underway, with 33.4 MW installed under the incentive program. According to the California Public Utilities Commission, almost 9,000 of the installations are residential and another 1,000 commercial. The data were updated for the Senate Energy, Utilities & Communications Committee April 25. Another CPUC subsidy plan, the self generation incentive program, now has 300 MW of capacity installed, according to Sean Gallagher, CPUC energy division director. The plan is budgeted for $83 million a year to place power facilities in the midst of the grid instead of having to build plants and transmission lines to feed central users. In the past, traditional small power systems like cogeneration (combined heat and power) were able to access the subsidies, but now only wind and fuel cells may apply. Net metering for solar installations–where facilities get credits in exchange for creating their own power–applies to 263 MW as of the end of 2007, according to the commission. Fuel cells, wind, and biogas add another 16 MW to that program. Most of the installations are in Pacific Gas & Electric territory. The San Diego territory could have zero demand growth by 2016 using localized energy sources, according to Bill Powers, Powers Engineering. He suggested to the committee expanding photovoltaic system use in the usually sunny area with power purchase agreements–that is, in addition to state subsidies for rooftop solar installations, that commercial rooftops be able to sell excess solar power to the local utility for redistribution.

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