The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) nuclear power plant located in between San Diego and Orange Counties and is jointly operated by Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric. With 2,200 megawatts of output, the San Onofre plant has been the largest power source in Southern California. In 2012, the plant went offline due to a growing concern of environmental and human health issues in the surrounding area. The recent announcement to decommission the plant has created uncertainty for our energy supply, and for utility ratepayers. Undoubtedly, solar generating systems are assisting with the helping fill the void of power during peak energy demand hours. The expansion of renewable energy, specifically solar, assists Southern California residents from having additional peak power plants built into our local communities.
Thanks to the tens of thousands property owners that have invested in solar energy systems in our region, the closing of San Onofre hasn’t caused blackouts in Southern California. Local solar design and installation company, Sullivan Solar Power, has sparked a solar energy initiative to help Southern California region produce clean, renewable solar energy. The company advocates that the need for San Onofre’s power plant becomes obsolete as the community transitions to solar power. Sullivan Solar Power is providing cash incentives in addition to the State rebate and Federal tax credit to encourage local property owners to go solar. Sullivan Solar Power will be launching the Rancho Santa Margarita Solar Program on August 15th and is paying residents $0.50 per Watt, up to $2,500 cash back.
California is a national leader, with the amount of solar capacity installed in the United States. The cities of San Diego and Los Angeles are consistently going head-to-head for the title of solar city of the nation, assisting with meeting energy demand needs for our region. According to the GTM Research 2012 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, California had installed 2,537.4 megawatts of installed solar capacity at the end of 2012. Over the past five years the solar market has grown by leaps and bounds. California ranks first in the U.S. with over 43,700 solar jobs, and has doubled the amount of solar installed in just under one year.
On September 1, utility customers will see significant rate hikes on their electric bills. Interestingly enough, this rate increase does not even take into account the San Onofre plant which is no longer providing energy to our region. What does this mean? Utility rates will continue to go up. Property owners are able to lock in a low, guaranteed rate of electricity by going solar, and hedge their bets against the ever-increasing rates of the utilities.