Renewables, Solar

California enacts law to further Million Solar Roofs Plan

21 August 2006 — Concluding a two-year effort to help make California the nation’s leader in solar energy, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed SB 1 by Senator Kevin Murray (D-Los Angeles), putting the finishing touches on the Million Solar Roofs Plan.

Dubbed the California Solar Initiative by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the plan aims for one million solar roofs in California by 2018. Specifically, SB 1 implements the portions of the Million Solar Roofs plan that the CPUC does not have the authority to mandate, including:

  • Expanding the Program: The current implementation of the Million Solar Roofs plan only applies to customers of Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. SB 1 expands the program to customers of the municipal-owned utilities such as SMUD and LADWP.
  • Crediting Consumers for Excess Power Produced: Consumers who install solar panels on their homes and businesses can sell excess energy back to power companies for credit on their monthly bills. This credit is a key incentive for consumers to install solar panels. Currently, the cap on the number of customers who can use this option is .5 percent. SB 1 raises this to 2.5 percent. According to the governor’s office, raising the ceiling will provide part of the needed financial incentive to bring more solar power on to the grid.
  • Making Solar Power a Standard Item on New Homes: SB 1 would require a developer of more than 50 new single family homes offer the option of a solar energy system to all customers beginning January 1, 2011.

The program’s supporters believe that one million solar roofs will greatly increase the state’s rooftop solar energy capacity, and the 3,000 MW goal, taken together with other aggressive solar initiatives such as requiring utilities to acquire 20 percent of the power used within the state from renewable sources, will make California a powerful international user of solar power.