The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has announced that the state’s California Solar Initiative has reached its goal for customer-installed solar energy ahead of schedule.
In its Annual Program Assessment report, issued June 30, the CPUC reported that as of Dec. 31, 2015, the California Solar Initiative General Market Program had installed 1,753.6 MW, with another 139.7 MW reserved in pending projects, surpassing the program goal of installing 1,750 MW by 2017. The CPUC also says customer solar installations continued to increase in 2015, largely without rebate incentives, demonstrating that the California Solar Initiative program has substantially achieved its objective of stimulating widespread adoption of solar energy and creating a self-sustaining market.
In January 2007, California began a $3.3 billion ratepayer-funded effort to install 3,000 MW of new solar energy systems over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generation equipment. The CPUC’s portion of the solar effort is known as the California Solar Initiative program, and the initiative’s goal is to install 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016 (this includes the general market program goal of 1,750 MW) and, along with other statewide solar programs, transition the solar industry to a point where it can be self-sustaining without subsidies.
Key findings of the report include the following:
– At the end of 2015, the total installed solar capacity installed at customers sites in Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison territories reached an estimated 3,570 MW across 451,597 sites.
– A record 1,041 MW of solar capacity was added in 2015 in the three utility territories, which is 55% more than what was added in 2014. The CPUC says the majority of these solar energy systems did not receive any California Solar Initiative rebates, as the three investor-owned utilities have either installed or reserved enough solar capacity to meet their California Solar Initiative program goals and are no longer accepting reservations.
– Between the last quarter of 2008 and the last quarter of 2014, the average cost of installed residential systems decreased 53% from $10.87/W to $5.14/W, and the average cost of installed non-residential solar system costs decreased 62% from $10.30/W to $3.93/W.
Meanwhile, specific California Solar Initiative highlights include the following:
– The California Solar Initiative Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program has completed a total of 5,681 projects, representing 17.2 MW of installed capacity on eligible homes. There are an additional 317 SASH projects in progress, with a total capacity of more than 1 MW.
– The California Solar Initiative Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) program has completed 372 projects, representing 24.67 MW of installed capacity. There are an additional 214 MASH projects in progress or under review, with a total capacity of 38.6 MW.
– In just over five years of operation, the California Solar Initiative Thermal program has approved 3,407 applications for $47.5 million in incentives of the available $205 million California Solar Initiative Thermal incentive budget.
– The California Solar Initiative Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment program has conducted five project solicitations since its inception, resulting in grant funding for 36 projects, totaling $44.4 million. Funded projects have focused on the following areas: integration of solar photovoltaics into the electricity grid, energy generation technologies and business development, and grid integration and production technologies.