California installs state’s one millionth solar roof

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Environment California was a key player in the initiative that led to landmark achievement

Environment California

CLOVIS, Calif. — Along with former Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown and other state leaders, Environment California today celebrated achieving one million solar roofs across the Golden State.

“Solar energy is one of the most impactful and tangible ways to solve climate change at scale and at speed,” said Dan Jacobson state director of Environment California. “As we strive to meet the state’s 100% clean energy goals, we need solar energy and energy storage technologies on every available rooftop and in every available garage. We are off to the races with today’s celebration of building a million solar roofs but there’s no time to lose.” 

Environment California played a pivotal role in proposing and developing what would become the Million Solar Roofs Initiative. Signed into law by then-Gov. Schwarzenegger in 2006, the project was designed to install 3,000 megawatts of clean power and help drive down the price of solar for Californians.

Thirteen years later, the state surpassed its original goal almost three times over, with 8,700 megawatts of solar installed, but at no additional cost to California beyond the original rebate program. By bringing more consumers into the market for solar power, the initiative helped bring the cost of rooftop solar down from $9.45 per watt in 2006 to $3.80 per watt in 2018. In light of these successes, in 2019 California mandated solar on all new homes starting Jan. 1, 2020.

“Goal-setting works,” Jacobson explained about the success of this effort. “From rebuilding Europe after World War II to the moon landing, if you set a big goal — no matter how difficult it may seem — dedicated people will find a way to reach it. States across the United States are proving this. Of the 30 states that have set mandatory renewable power targets, 25 have since raised those goals because what may have seemed initially unachievable has become completely doable. I’m just proud that California has led the way in this vision for clean energy.”

Environment California, along with other affiliates of the national environmental advocacy group Environment America, have worked nationwide to rally support on this issue. This includes convening more than 300 Mayors and local elected officials spanning all 50 states, and providing policy resources to support local and state leadership on solar energy.

“Solar power is an essential piece of completing a renewable energy puzzle that moves us toward a cleaner future,” said Emma Searson, Environment America Research and Policy Center’s 100% Renewable campaign director. “From coast to coast, we look forward to a day when one million solar installations is common in every state.”