The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) just released a report that proves the success of solar rebate programs. Gov. Schwarzenegger started the California Solar Initiative program back in 2004 with the goal of being the #1 state for solar installs. Dubbed the "Million Roofs Program," the goal was to increase the state's electrical security by linking thousands of smaller solar installations, or IOU's -- Investor Owned Utilities.

The program has been a runaway success. Last year, California doubled the number of installs from the previous year. 2008 saw 158 megawatts of solar over 2007's 78 megawatts, making California the state with the highest amount of distributed solar IOU's -- a total of 441 megawatts. California achieved this remarkable feat by offering some of the nation's best rebates through the rate-payer funded initiative. 

The study found that for every $1 California spent on rebates, $6 of private money was put into building a solar grid that benefits the whole state. A pretty good bang for the buck, and growth is projected to continue. Last quarter, applications for solar panel rebates broke all the records, indicating that 2009 may be the biggest year yet for solar installs in California.

Quoting the CPUC's program supervisor Mary Sterkel, “We are thrilled with the California Solar Initiative’s pace of installations and pleased to see that new solar applications continue at record levels. Even the economic downturn has not slowed the record pace at which Californians are going solar." Northern California leads the pack. Here's the breakdown on installs:

  • PG & E - Northern California: 33 MW residential, 45 MW commercial (with another 108 MW pending)
  • So. Cal Edison - LA: 13 MW residential, 49 MW commercial (with another 42 MW pending) 
  • San Diego G & E: 4 MW residential, 3 MW commercial (with another 26 MW pending)

The goal is to have approximately 2,000 MW of distributed solar by 2016. You can read about the study and the Solar Initiative by visiting the CPUC website.

Californians doubled their solar installs in 2008
Schwarzenegger's solar initiative stimulates $6 of private investment for every dollar the Utility spends.