It is no secret that California leads the country in solar power. Forward-thinking energy policies, expensive utility rates, and plenty of sun have combined to create idyllic conditions for solar growth. Every year, the Golden State breaks records for new solar PV installations.
In July 2016, CAISO announced a new record: California had officially installed over 8,000 megawatts of solar. In summer 2015, California only had 6,000 megawatts installed. That means one-fourth of all California grid-connected solar was installed in the last year alone!
CAISO, the California Independent System Operator, is a nonprofit public benefit corporation that manages over 80% of the grid in California. CAISO’s job is keeping the lights on 24/7 for the over 30 million residents they serve. They also report the amount of solar power installed in California.
It is no surprise that California is installing incredible amounts of solar every year. What is surprising is that the number reported by CAISO does not tell the whole story.
The 8,030 megawatts of total installed solar reported by CAISO only accounts for solar connected directly to the grid. What about all the solar not connected to the grid?
“We don’t see behind-the-meter solar installations,” verifies CAISO agency spokesperson Steven Greenlee. “If the systems don’t report to CAISO, CAISO can’t track them.”
CAISO tracks solar PV systems that connect and feed excess energy to the grid. An off grid solar system with battery backup is one example of a system that CAISO does not track. How much untracked solar does California have installed and what is the actual amount of solar in California?
Green Tech Media analyzed data from a variety of sources to find the answer. By comparing grid load data from CAISO and solar rebate information from the CPUC, Green Tech Media determined the actual total installed solar was much closer to 11,000 megawatts.
11,000 megawatts is an incredible amount of solar and an amazing feat for California. It demonstrates the rapid growth of the solar industry, which is great for the earth and our economy. Solar is an ideal solution to climate change and is the fastest growing new supply of clean, renewable energy. Solar creates much-needed jobs for today’s economy. With benefits like that, solar should be the foundation of any new domestic investment spending.
In the future, when you hear about California breaking a new solar record, remember there is more going on behind the scenes. Jobs are being created, families are saving money, and definitive steps are being made towards a clean energy economy.