State issues sunny report on solar industry

California's closing in on the halfway mark of its goal to build 1,940 megawatts of solar by the end of 2016.

At least that's the finding of a new report by the California Public Utilities Commission which says the state is 42 percent of the way into meeting the challenges set by the California Solar Initiative with projects installed and projected.

"Successes like this program continue to show the rest of the world that you can protect the environment and pump up the economy at the same time, and I am proud to say it is happening right here in California," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statement.

In January 2007, California launched a $3.3 billion ratepayer-funded effort that also seeks to transform the solar energy market by reducing costs and install even more solar. The Initiative portion is $2.2 billion.

The Initiative's annual report to the Legislature also said the program has received a record of nearly 300 MW of new project applications since January, more than any other six-month period since the program started. The state also saw more than 134 MW of new projects applying in April 2010, the highest month on record for new solar applications. Program data shows a decline in the average cost of solar systems with prices declining from $10.04/watt in January 2007 to $8.49/watt for systems under 10 kW.