State Solar Policy

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California Solar

California continues to be the leading solar market in the United States. A plethora of sunny days combined with supportive solar policies have created an ideal solar market. As older fossil-fired and nuclear generation plants (such as SONGS) come offline, statewide carbon reduction efforts escalate, and load growth increases (due, in part, to the anticipated increased deployment of electric vehicles), additional renewable energy procurement will be required within California. These factors, as well as changing consumer behaviors related to electricity production and delivery, offer substantial opportunities to continue to grow the solar energy market in California.

Facts on the California Solar Industry

  • There are currently more than 1,889 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in California, employing 47,223 people.
  • In 2013, California installed 2,746 MW of solar electric capacity, ranking it 1st nationally.
  • The 7,808 MW of solar energy currently installed in California ranks the state 1st in the country in installed solar capacity. There is enough solar energy installed in the state to power 1,897,300 homes.
  • In 2013, $7.1 billion was invested in California to install solar for home, business and utility use. This represents a 83% increase over the previous year, and is expected to grow again this year.
  • Average installed residential and commercial photovoltaic system prices in California have fallen by 10% in the last year. National prices have also dropped steadily — by 8% from last year and 39% from 2010.

View more solar industry data.

2014 Legislative Update 

Solar Property Tax Exclusion Extended

In July, Governor Brown signed SB 871 which extends the existing solar property tax exclusion until January 1, 2025. The continuation of this policy will allow homeowners and businesses to install solar energy without a reassessment of their property taxes. In addition, extension of the exclusion will enable California utilities to achieve their renewable energy targets at a lower cost to ratepayers.

SEIA California State Solar Policy Priorities

  • Encourage policies promoting robust penetration of customer-sited and wholesale distributed generation to help meet the Governor’s 12 GW goal.
  • Establish a favorable net energy metering successor tariff (NEM 2.0) that ensures robust market growth.
  • Protect and expand residential and commercial utility rate design which encourages deployment of customer-sited solar energy.
  • DEnable access to solar energy to ratepayers who otherwise would not have had such access, such as apartment tenants and low‐income customers.

Notable Solar Installations in California

  • California Valley Solar Ranch was completed in 2012 by developer SunPower. This photovoltaic project has the capacity to generate 250 MW of electricity-- enough to power over 100,000 California homes.
  • Another utility-scale project, Solar Star in Rosamond, is currently under construction in California and is scheduled to come online in 2015. Developed by SunPower, this 579 MW photovoltaic project will generate enough electricity to power 255,000 homes.
  • At 392 MW, Ivanpah in Barstow is among the largest solar installations in California. Completed in 2013 by BrightSource, this concentrating solar power project has enough electric capacity to power more than 140,000 homes.

See our solar installations maps

Solar Companies in California

  • There are currently more than 1,889 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in California. These companies provide a wide variety of solar products and services ranging from solar system installations to the manufacturing of components used in photovoltaic panels. These companies can be broken down across the following categories: 357 manufacturers, 86 manufacturing facilities, 937 contractor/installers, 113 project developers, 133 distributors and 349 engaged in other solar activities including financing, engineering and legal support.

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California State Solar Policy Resources

California Public Utilities Commission – Learn about the governing body that regulates the electricity rates and services of California public utilities

California Solar Initiative – Read information on the solar rebate program for customers of California's investor-owned utilities

California State Energy Commission – Find a wide variety of information on state government energy programs, policy, projects, energy-saving strategies and energy-related statistics

California State Legislature – Track pending legislation affecting solar energy, locate and contact individual legislators, and stay up to date on current legislative issues in California 

DSIRE Incentives Database - California – Search a public clearinghouse for specific solar energy incentives in California and across the United States

U.S. Energy Information Administration - California State Profile – Explore official energy statistics, including data on electricity supply and demand, from the U.S. government 

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For more information about SEIA’s activities in California, send an email to our state affairs team and we will respond as promptly as possible.

You can also contact our state chapter, CalSEIA, for more information on California solar policy.

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