California is once again leading the nation in the implementation of solar power, according to a federal study released this week.
The state generated 9.9 million megawatt-hours of solar power last year, more than every other state in the nation combined. California is also the first state to source 5 percent or more of its power from solar, nearly double the output of Nevada, the next-closest competitor.
Several new utility-scale solar projects in the Mojave Desert fueled a significant chunk of the increased capacity, though smaller installations continue to grow in popularity, with 2300 megawatts (roughly equivalent to the now-closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) of generation capacity installed on the rooftops of homes and small businesses by the end of 2014.
Locally, solar installations atop city-owned buildings in San Diego have been pitched as part of a climate action plan that seeks to source 100 percent of the city's energy from renewable sources by 2035.
Increased reliance on solar and other renewables has also generated some pushback: local utility San Diego Gas & Electric wants to institute a new base charge on all customers as part of its proposed new rate structure, partially as a means of eking greater payments out of solar customers who pay little or nothing to be connected to the power grid.
Environmental activists also argue that SDG&E is currently pushing for approval of a new gas-power plant along the Carlsbad coast as part of new developments intended to replace power lost from San Onofre's failure, despite a massive number of existing proposals to develop even more clean energy that the utility refuses to make public. That plan is currently being considered by the California Public Utilities Commission, which has indicated they're likely to reject it.