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Personal Use Solar Soars in California

The market for individual solar systems in California is booming, according to a new report from the California Public Utilities Commission.

In 2007, California launched a $3.3 billion program aiming to install 3,000 megawatts of solar power in the state within a decade. To this end, the Commission created the California Solar Initiative, with a $2.2 billion budget and a goal of 1,940 megawatt capacity by the end of 2016, with the remaining funding and power generation entrusted to utilities.

So far, the Initiative is more than halfway to meeting its goal, with 122,516 rooftop solar arrays generating 1,255 megawatts of energy, eclipsing the total generating capacity of one of the two nuclear reactors at the indefinitely idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

One aim of the Commission was to reduce the cost of solar, making the technology more accessible to a wider audience. Due to better technology, increased demand, and more efficient manufacturing, the cost of a typical residential solar array has fallen 28 percent since 2007, the Commission says. New solar projects in areas with a median income of $50,000 or less, meanwhile, have spiked 364 percent, and in areas with median incomes of $50,000-$100,000 have seen a 445 percent increase in demand.

Part of the boom is due to companies offering leased systems, where installation costs are covered by the panel provider, who then sells power to the consumer at a rate which is often below that charged by local utilities. Indeed, in 2007 a full 93 percent of new solar systems were purchased by homeowners, while about two-thirds are now leased instead.

Demand for solar continues to grow – last year new system installations were up 29 percent, accounting for a 38 percent growth in total generating capacity. And figures through the first three months of 2012 are up 60 percent over last year’s pace, with the opening quarter of 2012 seeing the addition of 97 megawatts of power.

If the figures for January through March hold up, it would take a little more than five years to completely replace the generating capacity of San Onofre.

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The market for individual solar systems in California is booming, according to a new report from the California Public Utilities Commission.

In 2007, California launched a $3.3 billion program aiming to install 3,000 megawatts of solar power in the state within a decade. To this end, the Commission created the California Solar Initiative, with a $2.2 billion budget and a goal of 1,940 megawatt capacity by the end of 2016, with the remaining funding and power generation entrusted to utilities.

So far, the Initiative is more than halfway to meeting its goal, with 122,516 rooftop solar arrays generating 1,255 megawatts of energy, eclipsing the total generating capacity of one of the two nuclear reactors at the indefinitely idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

One aim of the Commission was to reduce the cost of solar, making the technology more accessible to a wider audience. Due to better technology, increased demand, and more efficient manufacturing, the cost of a typical residential solar array has fallen 28 percent since 2007, the Commission says. New solar projects in areas with a median income of $50,000 or less, meanwhile, have spiked 364 percent, and in areas with median incomes of $50,000-$100,000 have seen a 445 percent increase in demand.

Part of the boom is due to companies offering leased systems, where installation costs are covered by the panel provider, who then sells power to the consumer at a rate which is often below that charged by local utilities. Indeed, in 2007 a full 93 percent of new solar systems were purchased by homeowners, while about two-thirds are now leased instead.

Demand for solar continues to grow – last year new system installations were up 29 percent, accounting for a 38 percent growth in total generating capacity. And figures through the first three months of 2012 are up 60 percent over last year’s pace, with the opening quarter of 2012 seeing the addition of 97 megawatts of power.

If the figures for January through March hold up, it would take a little more than five years to completely replace the generating capacity of San Onofre.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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