California regulators are reporting that the state has hit a major milestone in renewable energy: more than 1 gigawatt—1,000 megawatts—of solar power has been installed through the California Solar Initiative, which encourages homeowners, businesses, local governments and nonprofit organizations to install solar panels on their roofs.
Launched in 2007, the California Solar Initiative is an ambitious road map that calls for 1,940 new megawatts of solar power to be installed statewide by 2016.
The 1,066 megawatts installed by the end of 2012 put the state more than halfway to that goal. PG&E has more than 75,000 solar customers connected to the grid via net metering, which allows homeowners and businesses to offset the cost of their electric use with the rooftop solar power they generate and export to the grid.
Next-generation energy-efficiency technologies and programs could help utilities save 27 percent of forecasted electricity use and 19 percent of forecasted natural gas use by 2030, according to a report by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The report, Frontiers of Energy Efficiency, says new technologies combined with innovative program designs can help meet the aggressive saving targets being set by many states.
ACEEE says energy-efficiency programs for utility customers that have been in place for more than 30 years have experienced unprecedented growth over the past decade, in part because of policies that establish high, specific energy savings targets to be achieved through energy-efficiency programs.
Over the next two decades, while savings opportunities exist for all types of customers, the report finds some of the greatest potential exists for renovations and retrofits of homes and commercial buildings.
Lighting also remains a large source of energy savings along with building mechanical systems and a variety of electronics.