SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday signed into law a bill that aims to make the state one of the world’s biggest producers of solar energy.The bill, which cleared the state Senate last week, calls for the installation of 1 million rooftop solar panels on homes, businesses, farms, schools and public buildings by 2018.
The solar systems would generate 3,000 megawatts of power and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 3 million tons, equivalent to taking 1 million cars off the state’s highways and making California the third biggest solar producer after Japan and Germany.
The new law requires home builders to offer solar power to home buyers beginning in 2011 and allows utility customers who place panels on their homes or businesses to sell excess power back to their utility.
The law also extends the solar program to municipally owned utilities, such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the largest publicly owned utility in the United States.
The California Public Utilities Commission in January approved a $2.9 billion program to help pay for the solar program. The money will come from funds earmarked for solar energy and from gas and electric utility rates.