August 21, 2006

Schwarzenegger signs solar power bill

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger on Monday signed into law a bill that aims to
make the state one of the world's biggest producers of solar

The bill, which cleared the state Senate last week, calls
for the installation of 1 million rooftop solar panels on
homes, businesses, farms, schools and public buildings by 2018.

The solar systems would generate 3,000 megawatts of power
and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 3 million tons,
equivalent to taking 1 million cars off the state's highways
and making California the third biggest solar producer after
Japan and Germany.

The new law requires home builders to offer solar power to
home buyers beginning in 2011 and allows utility customers who
place panels on their homes or businesses to sell excess power
back to their utility.

The law also extends the solar program to municipally owned
utilities, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power, the largest publicly owned utility in the United States.

The California Public Utilities Commission in January
approved a $2.9 billion program to help pay for the solar
program. The money will come from funds earmarked for solar
energy and from gas and electric utility rates.