There are so many photovoltaic projects waiting to absorb the state?s subsidies, that a California Public Utilities Commission judge lowered financial support March 22. The ruling lowered payments to owners of solar power systems from $2.80\/watt to $2.50\/watt of installed capacity. Judge Dorothy Duda pointed to the fine line between providing enough funds to ensuring solar power becomes an ubiquitous part of the state?s energy plan, and the need to fund the maximum number of projects. The subsidy was reduced due to the large number of applications. The program buydown is lowered when the number of projects in the subsidy queue exceed 50 MW. As of March 9, 91 MW worth of applications landed in the CPUC's in box. Projects in the pipeline before mid-December last year are supposed to receive subsidies of $3\/watt. However, the baseline price that will be applied to solar and other renewable contracts signed with investor-owned utilities has risen. A CPUC proposed decision rules that green power deals that cost between 7.9 cents\/kWh this year, to 7.15 cents\/kWh in 2010 can tap into public goods funding. This benchmark price, above which can be funded with ratepayer money in the $75 million annual public goods pot, was originally estimated about 5.5 cents. The rising price of gas has pushed this baseline ?market referent price? up. The latest benchmark price, if approved by the commission, will apply to renewable contracts coming out of the three utilities 2005 request for renewable offers. The commission is set to act on the market price referent April 13.