California ISO, the state agency responsible for balancing customer demand with supply from regulated utilities, reported Sunday that the state hit a new record high for solar energy production of 2,071 megawatts.
That’s enough electricity to power 1.5 million California homes and to offset the electricity production lost when the Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station began leaking and had to be shut down in January 2012, according to a release from Cal ISO.
“This new record is remarkable considering the amount has more than doubled since last September when solar peaked at 1,000 megawatts,” Steve Berberich, the agency’s president said in a statement. “We are excited by this trend and expect to hit more record peaks on a regular basis.”
The 2 gigawatts of solar electricity generation accounts for more than 5 percent of the state’s entire electricity demand, according to the agency.
While solar cannot replace the consistent and reliable regulating power that the nuclear plant produced, it’s an interesting comparison, officials said.
The agency only tracks utility-produced power, which means there is likely almost as much as another gigawatt installed on California rooftops that isn’t included in the recent report of record solar production.
Solar capacity in California is expected to continue steady growth. GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association recently published a report revealing that the state installed 723 megawatts of new solar in the first quarter of 2013. That’s 33 percent more new solar than was installed in the first quarter of 2012. And the California residential solar market had a record year, installing more solar than ever.
The state is the largest solar energy producer in the country, though it still trails Countries known for their aggressive solar energy subsidies and incentives like Germany and Italy.
There is no indication that solar adoption in California will slow any time soon.
“We are on the cusp of a new solar revolution in the U.S., driven by the rapid expansion of distributed generation,” Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM, said in a statement. “Installations will speed up over the next four years as projects become economically preferable to retail power in more locations.”
The only potential barrier is a California Public Utilities Commission consideration of the state’s net metering policies.