California is the nationwide leader in consumer-generated solar power as a result of its ambitious solar program, the California Solar Initiative. The initiative is part of the largest solar campaign in the United States, called Go Solar California, and it provides incentives to California residents for installing California solar systems. The program is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission and started in 2007.
The purpose of the program is to transform the California solar power market by reducing the cost of California solar systems. The total budget for the life of the program is $2.167 billion. The specific goal is to install approximately 1,940 megawatts of new California solar power capacity. As the goal is achieved, the cost of CA solar systems is expected to drop. Incentives offered through the program will decline as the cost of solar systems drops.
According to the 2012 annual assessment of the program, California is the first state in the nation to install more than 1 gigawatt of solar energy generated by consumers. Since the beginning of the program, the cost of residential CA solar systems has decreased by 28 percent. Projects in low income markets have increased by 364 percent, and projects in middle income markets have increased by 445 percent. The program is on track to meet its overall goals by 2016, which is the end of the program.
California residents purchasing electricity from the investor-owned utilities Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison or San Diego Gas and Electric are qualified to participate in the initiative. Solar systems may be installed on existing residential homes and existing or new business properties. Depending on the size of the solar system, the program pays either a one-time, up-front payment or installments over the course of five years. Smaller systems of less than 50 kilowatts are paid up-front. These systems are usually residential or small business systems. Larger systems of 50 kilowatts or more are paid in 60 monthly installments. Participating residents must have a roof or ground area that receives direct sunlight from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. all year long. Residents will need to find a qualified contractor, and the contractor will assist with the application process. Residents interested in applying for the incentive rebate should visit Go Solar California to review the application process. Or if you want help finding a CA solar installer near you, Solar California can put you directly in touch with several reputable and professional CA solar installers who can help you go solar easily and economically.