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 2,262 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in California, employing 54,700 people.
- In 2014, California installed 4,316 MW of solar electric capacity, ranking it 1st nationally.
- The 11,535 MW of solar energy currently installed in California ranks the state first in the country in installed solar capacity. There is enough solar energy installed in the state to power 2,891,000 homes.
- In 2014, $11.773 billion was invested on solar installations in California. This represents a 66% 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 5% in the last year. National Prices have also dropped steadily- by 6% from last year and 53% 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
- Desert Sunlight was completed in 2015 by developer First Solar. This photovoltaic project has the capacity to generate 550 MW of electricity -- enough to power over 160,000 California homes.
- Several large retailers in California have gone solar, including Walgreens, Johnson & Johnson, Walmart and IKEA. Campbell's Soup has installed one of the largest corporate photovoltaic systems in the state with 2,300 kW of solar capacity at their location in Sacramento.
- At 250 MW, Mojave Solar is among the largest solar installations in California. Completed in 2014 by Abengoa, this concentrating solar power project has enough electric capacity to power more than 61,000 homes.
See our solar installations maps.
Solar Companies in California
There are currently more than 2,262 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: 413 manufacturers, 86 manufacturing facilities, 1027 contractor/installers, 146 project developers, 159 distributors and 524 engaged in other solar activities including financing, engineering and legal support.
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Solar panel costs have fallen significantly in the last 5 years and now installing solar panels can be one of the best investments you can make for your home. There are also now a lot of products on the market utilizing sophisticated financing vehicles to make solar panels for your home affordable. This website will show you the average retail price of installing home solar panels in California.
Solar rebates and solar tax credits in California.
Solar incentives are offered at the utility, county, state and federal level. These solar incentives can take various forms including solar tax credits, up front solar rebates, premium feed in tariffs (known as net metering) or solar production incentives.The eligibility and rules for each incentive program can vary greatly. This solar panel calculator allows you to enter your address and it will tell you what solar incentives will apply at your house and the value of these if you go solar.
Finding the right solar company for you:
There are many solar companies in California offering a wide variety of brands and options. This consumer reviews website will show you the consumer ratings of each solar installer that services your area and will also show you what brands of solar panels.
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