California has a history supporting renewable energy.

For a location relatively rich and abundant in natural resources, there’s really no excuse to not support environmentally beneficial endeavors.

So what kind of programs have been planned, initiated, and/or set forth? Great question.

Here is a glimpse of the programs that have taken place or will take place in California – information was taken from The California Energy Commission website.

In 2009, 11.6 percent of all electricity came from renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and small hydroelectric facilities. Large hydro plants generated another 9.2 percent of our electricity.

Around the turn of the 20th century, tens-of-thousands of homes in Southern California took advantage of the “California sunshine” to heat water for their homes. The oil crises of the 1970s gave rise to concerns over dependence on fossil fuels. At that time, federal and state tax credits helped establish a new solar and wind industry. Wind turbine farms cropped up on the slopes of hills in three primary locations.

Following deregulation of the electric utilities in 1998, the California Energy Commission was placed in charge of a new Renewable Energy Program to help increase total renewable electricity production statewide. This followed decades of bipartisan legislative and gubernatorial support for renewable energy, helping to make California a recognized leader in the field.

The Energy Commission’s Renewable Energy Program provided market-based incentives for new and existing utility-scale facilities powered by renewable energy. It also offered consumer rebates for installing new wind and solar renewable energy systems. The program also helps educate the public regarding renewable energy.

From 1998 to December 31, 2006, the Energy Commission’s Emerging Renewables Program funded grid-connected, solar/photovoltaic electricity systems under 30 kilowatts on homes and businesses in the investor-owned utilities’ service areas, wind systems up to 50 kW in size, fuel cells (using a renewable fuel), and solar thermal electric. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) funded larger self-generation projects for businesses. Since 2007, the Emerging Renewables Program has focused on providing incentives toward the purchase and installation of small wind systems and fuel cells using a renewable fuel.

Effective 2007, the solar portion of the Emerging Renewables Program ended and was replaced with Senate Bill 1’s vision for California to have two programs to support onsite solar projects: the Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership and the California Public Utilities Commission’s California Solar Initiative. In addition, there would be a variety of solar programs offered through the publicly owned utilities. This statewide effort is known collectively as Go Solar California and has a statewide campaign goal of 3,000 MW of solar generating capacity with a budget of $3.35 billion.

The Energy Commission’s New Solar Homes Partnership, a $400 million program, offers incentives to encourage solar installations, with high levels of energy efficiency, in the residential new construction market for investor-owned electric utility service areas. The goal of the NSHP is to install 400 MW of capacity by 2016.
California continues to be a state that strongly supports and encourages the use of renewable energy. Solar energy, in particular, is currently a huge focus and will continue to be for a very long time.

Incentives have been initiated for investors and there’s no doubt that more initiatives will be set forth in the future.

To see what additional state, local, utility, and federal incentives and programs there are for your area, see DSIRE.

It really pays to be part of a sunny state.