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California bets on solar

Posted by iTech - 2006-01-15

WASHINGTON — A solar initiative approved Thursday (Jan. 12) by the California Public Utilities Commission could make the Golden State one of the world's largest producers of solar energy.

The California Solar Initiative would promote the installation of 3,000 megawatts of solar collectors on homes, businesses, farms, schools and public buildings.

The commission said it would provide $2.8 billion in incentives for solar projects on existing residential buildings, factories, businesses and farms. An additional $400 million in incentives will be earmarked for new home construction. Incentives would be phased out by 2016.

A portion of the funds would come from surcharges on monthly electric power bills, the agency said.

The commission estimated that the initiative would provide electricity equivalent to six new natural gas-fired power plants.

"Rooftop solar provides electricity where people need it — for their homes and businesses — and when they need it most — during peak daytime hours," Barry Cinnamon, president of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement.

The solar industry estimates that the California initiative could result in the installation of 1 million rooftop solar collectors on homes, schools, business and farms.

Solar companies likes HelioVolt (Austin, Texas) said they would work with building materials manufacturers to incorporate thin-film solar collectors into building materials, including metal and polymer roofing, skylights and architectural glass.

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