California Approves Legislation for Million Solar Roofs Plan
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger put the final pieces in place for his Million Solar Roofs Plan on August 21st when he signed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) into law. Back in January, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) put the major piece of the plan into effect when it created the 10-year, $2.9 billion "California Solar Initiative" to offer rebates on solar power systems. However, because the CPUC only has authority over investor-owned utilities, the rebates were funded by the customers of those utilities and only available to those customers.
SB 1 expands the program to municipal utilities such as the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Los Angeles Department of Power and Water and allows the total cost of the program to increase to as much as $3.35 billion. It also increases the cap on the number of utility customers that can sell their excess solar power generation back to the utility. That number was previously capped at 0.5 percent of the utility's customers, but is now capped at 2.5 percent of the customers. And starting in 2011, SB 1 requires developments of more than 50 new single-family homes to offer solar energy systems as an option.
The governor's Million Solar Roofs Plan aims to install solar power systems on one million homes by 2017. The state estimates that the million homes would have a total solar power capacity of 3,000 megawatts. See the governor's press release, his "Protecting Our Environment" Web site, and the text of SB 1.