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CA rooftop solar success comes with warning

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California has broken another record in its continued expansion of clean energy generation, having reached 150,000 rooftop solar installations. Of the 1,560 MW total installed, Los Angeles County leads the charge with 171.4 MW of installed rooftop solar.

Wikimedia Commons/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The statistics were gathered from Go Solar California as of May 15, 2013 (the most recent information available), and compiled from data through Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and arrays outside those utilities' service areas. PG&E accounted for 52.4 percent of all rooftop solar installations; SCE accounted for 37.1 percent. The remainder -- 9.8 percent -- were financed by the California Center for Sustainable Energy. Rooftop solar in areas served by such other utilities as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power or the Imperial Irrigation District may not even be included in these totals, reports KCET.

"150,000 rooftop solar installations is clear evidence that Californians want clean renewable energy generation to keep expanding. That's pollution-free energy powering our clean energy economy, generating solar jobs," said Evan Gillespie, director of the My Generation Campaign at the Sierra Club.

"As California enters its summer season of high electricity demand, the energy generated from rooftop solar is providing more and more of the peak power that we need to avoid potential blackouts. With San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shut down, these new solar installations will play a crucial role in the months ahead," he said.

Despite his optimism, Gillespie warns that investor-owned utilities may attempt to slow down or suppress California's expansion of rooftop solar through extra charges and bureaucratic hurdles.

"Unfortunately, all indications are that utilities would like to limit or even reverse the growth of rooftop solar in order to protect their business model based on bloated dirty fuel projects," Gillespie contends.

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