In 2007, the state of California committed to install 3,000 megawatts (3 gigawatts) of solar power by the end of 2016. According to a new Environment California report, four years into the commitment, the state has installed 1 gigawatt of solar panels on rooftops, and the state is on track to meet its goal of 3 gigawatts by 2016. For those less science minded, 1 gigawatt of solar power is a big deal. In fact, California alone now has more solar power than most countries, including France.

These days, a single solar panel has a capacity of around 200 watts; so one gigawatt of installed capacity requires about 5 million solar panels. Those 5 million solar panels installed across California would produce the equivalent power of one or two coal-fired power plants or even a nuclear reactor.

During summer when energy usage is highest, California uses upwards of 65 gigawatts of power at peak times. According to estimates by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, if California installed 80 gigawatts of solar power, it would account for a third of the state’s needs for electricity.

Los Angeles currently dominates the realm of solar rooftops with more megawatts installed than any other county in California. Yet, even Los Angeles’ impressive amount of solar power amounts to only a tenth of the power required for the state.

Strong Incentives for Solar Power

A study released by three top researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab showed that homes with rooftop solar panels sell for a substantial premium over homes without the capacity to generate all or some of their own electric power.

And according to San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, adding solar rooftops can increase the value of residential homes and stimulate the economy. That’s why he’s working to introduce incentive municipal programs like “Green Grade,” drawing from the success of LEED certification.

To improve our local and state economies and help the environment, we need to work to keep California at the top of its solar game. Successful programs like GoSolarSF, which quadrupled the number of solar roofs in the City, created scores of new green jobs and attracted nearly a dozen new solar companies to San Francisco, are essential to meeting the State’s goal of 3 gigawatts.

If you believe in smart programs like GoSolarSF that are creating jobs, generating new revenue and helping our state meet its ambitious solar goals, sign the petition in support of GoSolarSF today.