Landmark California Solar Initiative Sitting on Schwarzenegger’s Desk

If California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) signs off on the “Million Solar Homes Initiative” in its present form, some $100 million in subsidies will go toward insuring that 50 percent of all new homes in the state be equipped with photovoltaic solar panels by 2013. The landmark plan would cash out Schwarzenegger’s campaign promises to protect the environment and support alternative energy. The money would be raised through a surcharge on customers of privately owned utilities; the energy produced would go to replacing that from “peaker plants,” the heavily polluting generators that kick in during times of highest demand. The governor is under steady pressure from enviros to deliver on solar, but the state’s building industry is ambivalent and there is pressure from inside his administration to water down or delay the plan. If passed, the plan could help solar reach the tipping point at which it would become an affordable energy alternative for average citizens.