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New record in California for solar installation

In California, where the sun really shines almost all the time, a new record for rooftop solar was achieved last year, and the numbers don’t even include systems installed in areas served by the state’s municipal utilities. .

Homeowners and businesses installed 158 megawatts of photovoltaic panels, despite a deepening recession that appears to have hit the state, at least according to the most recent study released by the Milken Institute, a US-based economic think tank. Santa Monica.

This is despite a credit freeze that is drying up the economy and drying up renewable energy projects from coast to coast. So how did California, a leader in all things green, pull off this unprecedented solar spree, doubling the 78 megawatts installed in 2007?

State-funded initiatives, according to the California Public Utilities Commission, and most of them attributable to the California Solar Initiative, began two years ago.

Not only did 2008 top 2007, but the largest volume of homeowner rebate claims came in December, the year the recession hit home in terms of record unemployment, near-negative GDP, dead housing starts, and Negative home values, record low Christmas retail sales, falling stocks and, most indicative of all, at least to this writer, the bankruptcy filing of the New York Times-owned Tribune Company.

If that doesn’t sum up the bad news, I don’t know what will. Despite that, even California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced to admit that solar panel sales were the only bright spot in a gloomy economic outlook that threatens to slash tax refunds, student scholarships and welfare checks from the state unless the budget may be forced to balance.

“I am encouraged to see that even in these tough financial times, we are breaking solar installation records and spurring private investment in solar projects.” The governor pointed.

So it must be. The taxpayer-funded Solar Initiative offers rebates to homeowners and businesses that install solar panels, with rebates typically ranging from 20 to 50 percent of the cost of a system.

You’d think Californians would be tightening their belts. Instead, new federal tax breaks through the Clean Energy Stimulus Act of 2008, combined with state and regional initiatives, have Golden Staters turning away from dodgy stocks and real estate and looking for the real gold: the energy from sunlight.

Solar energy is certainly a good place to invest money when everything else seems in danger of failing. In fact, the US Department of Energy has projected that solar power could potentially be the largest contributor to the nation’s renewable energy portfolio, or up to 28 percent of the renewable energy mix.

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