State’s solar energy output reaches milestone via San Francisco Chronicle

David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

California has installed enough rooftop solar panels to generate more than 1 gigawatt of electricity, a milestone only five countries worldwide have reached.

And California has the potential to add perhaps 79 gigawatts more, according to a report to be released today by an environmental group. That’s more than twice as much electricity as the state used Tuesday afternoon when demand reached its daily peak.

The report examines the progress of California’s $3.3 billion Million Solar Roofs Initiative, which offers financial incentives for homeowners and businesses to install solar systems. The initiative, created by the Legislature and state regulators in 2006, calls for installing 3 gigawatts – or 3,000 megawatts – of solar generation by the end of 2016.

The number of solar systems installed in the state each year has expanded rapidly, growing by an average of 40 percent, according to the report by Environment California. At that rate, California should reach the initiative’s goal. And it has helped create a thriving solar industry within the state, notwithstanding the recent high-profile bankruptcy of Fremont’s Solyndra.

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