A proposal unveiled last year by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger aimed at promoting solar power in the state has been enhanced. Under the original proposals a million new homes were to have solar panels installed but the plan has been amended to cover both new and existing homes as well as commercial buildings. The plan would set up an incentive programme, based on a Japanese scheme, to save 3,000 MW of peak demand power by 2018. The bill would set up subsidies and rebate incentives, and the California Public Utilities Commission would determine any rate increases while consumers could sell spare capacity back to the grid.

“This is the biggest piece of solar legislation ever introduced in the United States and it makes sense because California is the Saudi Arabia of sunlight,” said David Hochschild, policy director for the nonprofit Vote Solar Initiative group. The bill is expected to be heard in the Senate Energy Committee in March.