While California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for his action films, few knew of his affinity for the sun. Turns out he is hell bent on converting California to solar.
3.2 Billion Dollar Plan
This past week, the State of California became the undisputed biggest proponent of solar power in the United States. Faced with a growing population, limited energy sources and the occasional rolling blackout each summer season, the state really had no choice. With backing from Governor Schwarzenegger, the state has just implemented the biggest solar industry subsidiary every undertaken by a state in an effort to quell the energy crunch.
On January 12, 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission voted 3 to 1 to adopt a plan to encourage the use of solar roof systems by residents through a 3.2 billion dollar rebate plan. Known as the California Solar Initiative, the goal is to convert as much as six percent of the peak energy demands in the state to solar platforms. Put in practical terms, the goal is place solar systems on roughly one million homes in the state, particularly new homes. Approximately 15,000 homes in the state now have solar systems for energy generation.
When in use, the residents will receive an astonishing rebate of $2.80 cents per watt on their utilities bill. On top of this subsidy, state residents will be able to claim tax credits from the federal government as well as direct subsidies.
In turn, California is hoping to both reduce the stress on the current electrical grid system while also avoiding the costs associated with building and running massive new power generating stations necessary to feed the energy crunch associated with a growing population. It is estimated the power generated through California Solar Initiative will be sufficient to replace the need for five massive, expensive new power generation complexes.
In addition to the economic benefits of the new plan, Californians going solar can reap significant benefits through net metering laws. Under such laws, residents will be able to tie solar platforms into utility electric grids and effectively sell power back to the California utilities. Depending on the size of the solar platform, net metering can result in reduction of electrical bills from 50 percent to complete elimination.
For a state suffering growth problems, the California Solar Initiative is a major move. After a crushing defeat at the polls in late 2005, the Governor has something to cheer.