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    Fact Sheet: Solar Energy Use in California

    California is celebrated for its vibrant cities, as well as its diverse landscape of beaches, mountains, deserts, lush forests, and spectacular sunsets. With countless natural wonders such as these to protect, California is one of the country's leaders in solar energy. Homeowners in California can take advantage of this state's promising commitment to solar power through its many exciting and progressive solar incentives.
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    Solar energy in California has enjoyed recent growth due to their ambitious Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). This regulation requires that 33% of California's electricity production must come from renewable energy by 2020. In addition to the RPS, Elon Musk's company SolarCity, which works to install more affordable solar energy systems for commercial and residential customers, is based in California, with over 20 locations throughout the state. There are also a number of other solar incentives for California homeowners. This article provides the latest information on the state of solar energy in California in order to help you decide whether or not a solar energy system is right for you.

    Grid Connected Solar Power Systems in California (2012)

    • Residential Solar Power Systems: 200.1 Megawatt
    • Non-Residential Solar Power Systems: 295.2 Megawatt
    • Utility: 487.8 Megawatt
    • Total: 983.2 Megawatt
    • Cumulative: 2,559.3 Megawatt

    California is the number one state in the country for total solar energy production. With California's position as the country's leader in solar power, homeowners in California have the potential to join a rapidly expanding industry.

    Cost of Electricity in California

    • Electricity Price: $0.15 per kWh
    • Average Electricity Bill: $184.00
    • Average Bill after Solar: $68

    This data reveals that solar installation in California can cut your monthly bill by almost two thirds. Homeowners that use a leased system pay about $52 per month. Even with this payment, homeowners will still save approximately $64 per month on their electricity bill. If you choose to buy rather than lease a home solar system, it takes, on average, 6.2 years for a home solar panel system to pay for itself. Whether you decide to lease or buy, California homeowners can enjoy numerous financial savings with the installation of solar power systems.

    Solar Radiation

    California is a large, diverse state, and so the average amount of solar radiation varies. In northern California, the average is between 3 and 4 kilowatt per day per square meter. In central California, the average is between 4 and 5 kilowatt per day. California's yearly average of sunny to partly sunny days also varies greatly, but in general, the state enjoys an excellent amount of sunshine: nearly all of the state's cities average well over 150 days per year. Los Angeles has 292 annual days of sun, while San Francisco has 260 annual days of sun.

    State Solar Incentives and Rebate Programs

    • State Solar Tax Credit: None
    • State Solar Rebate: Varies by utility
    • Property Tax Exemption: 100% exempt
    • Sales Tax Exemption: None

    In addition, the Federal Solar Tax Credit also applies.

    California's state solar rebates vary for each utility company. Here is the breakdown for the state's top three companies:

    • PGE: (exhausted as of 2014, but applications accepted) / $200
    • SCE: (exhausted as of 2014, but applications accepted) / $200
    • CCSE: $250

    In many areas, homeowners can also install solar energy systems for $0 down, even if the utility company has exhausted its rebate incentives.Some counties and cities in California, particularly San Francisco, also offer additional solar incentives.

    Solar Installers in California

    The California Contractors State License Board administers contractor licenses. The best way to research solar installers is to look up their license at Click here to find reputable solar installers in California.

    Summary: Good Conditions for Solar Power Systems

    California is one of the best states in the nation for solar power systems. With its excellent RPS and large array of solar installers, there is a lot of potential for further improvement to solar incentives.

    To calculate your costs and savings, please use our Solar Calculator or contact solar installers in your area.

    Solar Energy Fact Sheet: California, ©

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    Written by: Oliver Wulf, Editor