Has blazing a trail in solar energy cost California too much?

California leads the nation in solar power, but the proliferation of home installations has been fueled by electric rate incentives. A battle over how much longer they will be available is being waged.

That ray of light you see peeking through all the clouds darkening California’s future? That’s the sun. More specifically, solar power, in which California is the hands-down national leader.

The state’s installed solar generating capacity of about 1.2 gigawatts — the equivalent of two big conventional power plants and enough to fill the electrical demand from nearly 200,000 homes for a year — easily outstrips the next 10 highest-ranked states. It’s also the fastest-growing solar market in the country.

So you may not be surprised to learn that California’s big utilities are fighting like mad to keep a lid on that growth. The most important battle in that war is scheduled for this week, with California’s continued primacy as a solar state hanging in the balance. More than bragging rights are at stake: California’s solar industry has created 26,000 jobs, or 1 in 4 solar jobs nationwide, according to a recent study by the UC Berkeley law school. And California’s solar generation will have to keep growing if the state is to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of generating 12 gigawatts from clean sources such as solar, wind and fuel cells by 2020… Read more

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