July 7, 2005

Calif. panel passes Schwarzenegger solar plan

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A bill supported by Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger to sharply expand the use of solar power in
California was approved late on Wednesday by a state Assembly

The measure aims to put photovoltaic solar panels on the
rooftops of one million new homes and businesses in the next 10
years, raising California's solar generation from a current 100
megawatts to more than 3,000 megawatts, equivalent to 30 new
"peaking" plants to deliver power during high-demand periods.

Supporters say the bill will reduce the cost of solar
energy and bring clean air and energy independence to

Electric utilities, manufacturing groups, and other
opponents say the measure is too costly at an estimated $2.5

In passing the bill, the Assembly's Utilities and Commerce
Committee required that solar panels be made available for
affordable housing and for low-income utility customers to be
exempt from paying into a solar energy fund, an aide to
Democrat Sen. Kevin Murray said.

Murray and Republican Sen. John Campbell wrote the measure,
which faces hearings in two other Assembly committees before a
vote in late August.

The measure has already passed the state Senate.