No doubt about, California, whose citizens willingly pay a higher price to protect their environment, leads the U.S. in Solar PV production, sales, installation, output and ... subsidies/mandates. This source rates it number one for rooftop solar. As of August, 2012, its three biggest utilities met the state government's mandate that at least 20% of the electricity they sell come from renewable sources. As of the end of 2012, it had installed 1 GW of Solar power. Click here, too. It's angling toward grid-parity pricing, but it must grapple with layers of complex questions, which will have to addressed in other states, like how to economically blend multitudes of solar PV systems into its grid. This late 2013 articles discusses the use of batteries to blend solar into the grid.
Here's its projected energy mix by 2020.
(Source). It just recently passed legislation uncorking its net metering bottle and upping its goal to 33% renewable energy by 2002. (Source). With that much investment, it will be useful to watch how that state copes with the variability problem discussed elsewhere in this web-book. It is my hope that it succeeds, but rarely has an undertaking so propelled by politicians and their bureaucrat ever produced positive results in the mass-consumer market (can you think of any?). That's why I have a "Boondoggle Watch" page, with a California project as a major entry, though this October, 2013 article touts its solar program a success thus far.
Lately, however, some Californians are re-examining what the state has done with Solar. This L.A. Times article struck a chord with many: Because of non-sensical regulation, the utilities out on the West Coast actually make money running multi-billion transmission lines to its big solar farms -- a point not addressed in this rebuttal piece. Nor this, either. And they make that money not because the large installations make economic sense and not because the utilities therefore profit off of higher efficiencies such installations may bring (the essence of healthy capitalism). No, they do it because they get to charge their own ratepayers a premium merely for constructing such lines. Money Quote:
(Source). More on the "California Controversy" here and here, as rebutted here and here. And just look at the fight, led by this group, that's erupted over just studying "grid configuration costs" out there. My grid operator friend's response:
I want to make sure all who are deciding my state's (Georgia's) fate stop, look and listen before going over the cliff there. No surprise/hidden costs, as are surfacing with this big desert project in California.
Meanwhile, "Welcome to California Solar Statistics."
And hey, $1 Trillion in California oil-shale revenues, in the face of the $370 Billion in debt that analysis claims, means a lot of Californians will re-think their commitment to green, versus brown, power.
September, 2013: Latest pro-solar legislation passed
June 12, 2013: California's residential electricity rates
May, 2013: California now touting the world's largest Solar PV plant.
March, 2013: A "Shared Renewables" proposal.
February, 2013: L.A.'s FIT program takes off.
February, 2013: Efforts to de-privatize and thus have the state take over electric power utilities.
January, 2013: The debate over Net Metering benefits and costs.
January, 2013: 3rd year in a row claimed reduction in carbon emissions, in part due to increased renewable power sourcing:The main factor behind the drop in emissions was a 10 million-ton decrease in emissions from electricity generation, which more than made up for increased emissions from the oil, gas, and cement industries. According to CARB, that decrease in electrical generating emissions reflects both an increase in non-carbon power generation such as wind, solar, and hydro, and a decrease in consumption. (Source).
December, 2012: Prisons Going Solar
September, 2102 -- Will transmission line shortcomings prevent CA from reaching its 33% goal? Click here (the State's $16 Billion deficit also cited).
A new record in PV installations for January, 2012.
July 2012: Glowing news for "Joe Six Pack" Solar PV ownership: "Despite a rocky year for solar manufacturers and California’s struggling economy, the number of solar installations continues to soar. Installations jumped nearly 60% in 2011 from the previous year to a record 311 megawatts and just in the first quarter of this year 97 megawatts of rooftop solar have been installed."
Here are some sites to consult in discerning a way in which California might successfully (that's a value-laden term, I use it to mean "in the free market," but maybe others don't) integrate 33% renewable (hence, variable) power into its grid:
California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO): “The ISO operates a robust and reliable wholesale power system that balances the need for higher transmission reliability with the need for lower costs, and acts as a key platform to achieve California’s clean energy goals.” (Source).
California's leading the way on the debate over something called "net metering," which is explained here, here, and here.