June 2011: California Solar Initiative 2011 Annual Program Assessment (Legislative Report)

The CPUC's California Solar Initiative team issued its Annual Program Assessment to the Legislature on June 30, 2011. Highlights of the report include:

  • Californians installed 194 megawatts (MW) of new solar electric generating equipment in 2010 – more new distributed solar generating capacity than in any other year in the state’s history, and an increase of 47 percent over the capacity installed in 2009. This grid-tied solar capacity provides clean, fossil-free power directly to 19,877 homes, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies statewide.
  • The total installed solar capacity in California is 924 MW at 94,891 individual sites through the first quarter of 2011. This capacity has been installed through a variety of state and local incentive programs dating back to the 1990s. Of the 924 total MW installed, 746 MW were installed at 77,461 customer sites in the service territories of the state’s investor-owned utilities.
  • The CSI Program received applications for 425 megawatts (MW) of solar PV projects in 2010, more than twice the capacity of solar PV applications received in any previous year of the program. As a result, more than 110 MW of solar have already been installed under the CSI Program through June 14, 2011, putting the program on pace for another record-setting year of solar installations.
  • The CSI Program is achieving its goal of reducing the cost of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) equipment. For systems smaller than 10 kW, inflation-adjusted prices have declined from $10.45/watt to $8.55/watt since the start of the program, a cost reduction of 18 percent. For systems larger than 10 kW, prices have dropped even further, from $9.18/watt to $6.71/watt, a 27 percent cost reduction.
  • Since its creation in October 2008, the Multi-family Affordable Solar Housing program has been such a hit with contractors and low-income housing agencies that many of the incentives have been fully allocated, and there is a waiting list to participate in the program.
  • The CPUC opened a new program in 2010 to promote solar water heating and other solar thermal technologies. In its first year, the CSI-Thermal Program has taken applications for $2 million in rebates on 275 solar thermal projects.
  • The CPUC awarded grants worth a total of $24 million to 17 Research and Development Projects aimed at improving solar electric generating technologies, reducing the cost of equipment, and facilitating better integration of solar into the electric grid.

In January 2007, California began an unprecedented $3.3 billion effort to install 3,000 megawatts (MW) of new solar over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generating equipment. The CPUC portion of the solar effort is known as the CSI Program. The CSI portion, the country’s largest solar program, has a $2.2 billion budget and a goal of 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016.


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