In 2006, California became the 6th largest producer of electricity in the United States, producing 16% of the entire country’s energy. The solar industry in California has blossomed over the past 10 years, and the state now has the most installed solar capacity of any state. With over 1.5 million people living in the Golden State now, the demand for sustainable and renewable energy has increased, resulting in many solar-related jobs being created.
This, in turn, has spurred a lot of growth in the field, especially in the solar-powered vehicles industry, which has doubled its market share in the past five years. Today, over 75% of new cars sold in California are either hybrid or electric vehicles.
But just how much energy does California produce? Let’s take a look.
According to the CAISO, or California’s Independent System Operator, California produces 3.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity per year, which is enough to power roughly 300,000 homes. This amount represents an increase of 10% since 2015.
And that’s actually a conservative estimate, since it doesn’t include renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, which California subsidizes through its “net metering” program. This is where customers with solar power systems get credit for the energy they produce and don’t have to pay for electricity.
The CAISO also estimates that, by the end of 2021, California will have 4.5 million megawatt-hours of solar energy capacity, which is enough to power nearly half a million homes. This will make the state a world leader in renewable energy production.
Per Capita Energy Usage
While California as a whole produces a lot of electricity, its per capita use is quite low compared to other states. According to the CAISO, California uses only 784 kilowatt-hours per month per person. This is only about half of what the country’s average person uses (1,591 kwh) and about a quarter of what the Northeastern United States (1,931 kwh) uses. On a hot summer day in California, people will go into energy conservation mode, turning off appliances and keeping their air conditioner at a lower setting. They’ll also use a lot less water, as there is a drought in the state. However, per capita energy usage in California is still higher than it was prior to electricity deregulation in 1996.
When California deregulated its electricity market in 1996, it opened the market to new competitors, which led to significant price decreases and better service for customers. The state’s electricity prices are now 47% lower than they were in early 1996, and that’s something that has definitely helped fuel the growth of solar in the state. Without regulation, electricity prices would have continued to increase, putting a lot of stress on customers’ pockets. But as more and more people got on board the renewable energy train, the prices began to decrease, and eventually, settled at a more sustainable level. This, in turn, helped drive the growth of the solar industry in California. Today, thanks to deregulation, the state is home to the most installed solar capacity of any state in the country. And with cheap solar panels and battery packs becoming more accessible, the future of renewable energy in California looks extremely bright.
So, as you can see, California is making significant progress in the area of renewable energy and is well on its way to securing its future as a leading state in the country. If you’re interested in investing in solar energy or just want to learn more about this rapidly growing industry, contact SolarCity today.