California Solar Rebate Program Reaches 1-Gigawatt Milestone


California homeowners and businesses, taking advantage of a state rebate program that encourages the installation of solar panels, are now generating 1 gigawatt — or 1,000 megawatts — of electricity, roughly the equivalent of a nuclear power plant, state regulators say.

Launched in 2007, the $2.4 billion California Solar Initiative has offered rebates as high as $2.50 per watt to businesses and homeowners who installed solar panels, with a target of generating 1,940 megawatts by the end of 2016.

According to state data, the program so far has encouraged the installation of 1,066 megawatts, more solar capacity than any other state and more than most countries. While the state incentive has fallen by as much 92 percent since the program was introduced, the number of applications continues to increase as the price of solar power installations falls, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

When the state program started six years ago, residential solar systems cost about $9.76 per watt. They now cost about $6.19 per watt. “The costs are going down as we hoped, and the market is heading closer to self-sufficiency,” said Edward Randolph, of the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the rebate program.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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