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California surpasses customer-installed goal a year early

California is once again outshining other states in its solar progress – this time by reaching its customer-installed solar energy goal a year early.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently announced that the state’s California Solar Initiative programme had installed 1,753.6MW, with another 139.7MW reserved in pending projects, surpassing the goal of installing 1,750MW by 2017.

This record installation was achieved by customers of the Golden State’s three investor-owned utilities (IOUs), who installed 1,041MW of solar capacity in 2015 – an increase of 55% more than the capacity installed in 2014, according to state regulators.

Importantly, the installations were achieved in the absence of a rebate incentive, as highlighted in the CPUC’s annual report of the California Solar Initiative.

In total, the programme oversaw an estimated 2,750MW of solar capacity across 451,597 sites in the territories of Pacific Gas & Electric Co (PG&E), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison. As previously reported, these utility territories are hot spots for solar; with SDG&E surpassing its 5% net-metering cap and initiating NEM 2.0, with the other IOUs close to follow.

The increased solar capacity is an important reflection of the drop in the cost of residential solar systems – with the average cost of a system decreasing by 53% from US$10.87/W to US$5.14/W. the average cost of an installed non-residential system has also decreased significantly; falling 62% from US$10.30/W to US$3.93/W.