San Jose: The Fastest-Growing California Solar City in 2012

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San Jose added more residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems last year than any other city in California, according to the latest PV Solar Report, a quarterly analysis conducted by solar company SunRun.

San Jose’s number of home solar systems in 2011 was up 45.4% from just the year before, a dramatic increase that points to the rising popularity of home solar.

Out of the 960 home PV systems installed last year, 648 of them were leased systems, what SunRun calls “solar service.”

In total, nearly 7,500 home solar systems were installed in California last year.

SunRun, the nation’s top residential solar power company, installs over $1.5 million in solar every day.

SunRun president Lynn Jurich credits the company’s success to the growing popularity of solar leasing, stating that solar service “allows homeowners to make the switch for zero or very little money upfront, and they lock in a low rate for clean electricity.”

Beginning in June 2011, solar leasing in California began to outpace purchased systems. In December 2011 alone, over 70% of solar installations in the Golden State were leased systems.

The appeal of leasing reaches beyond lower monthly electric bills. Many Californians are glad to find affordable ways to support technologies that reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

San Jose residents can take advantage of incentive programs as well, including the federal tax credit program that can cut installation costs by up to 30%.

San Jose Pacific, Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers are also eligible for per-watt rebates from the utility. The current rate for PG&E rebates is $.25 per watt.

For a 4 kilowatt-sized home PV system in San Jose, rebates can cut the upfront costs from $33,000 to $22,000, with a payback period of about eleven years.

PG&E customers in San Jose can take advantage of net-metering, too. By reducing their conventional electrical use, they can often stay in the base-rate range, avoiding higher rates during peak demand periods.

Whenever the home is generating more power than the home is using, PG&E will credit the surplus to their monthly bill.

The PV report not only looked at the number of solar installations added, but the fastest-growing California solar cities, such as Hemet and Apple Valley.

“We thought it was important to not just look at which cities have the most solar installations,” said PV Report founder Stephen Torres, “but also those that are growing the fastest.”

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About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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