California Powers 6 Million Homes With Solar Energy, Slays Record

A new renewable energy record has come to light.

Thanks to a heat wave, California was able to shatter a state solar record. On July 12 at 1:06 p.m., several large solar plants dotted throughout the state produced 8,030 megawatts of electricity, according to the California Independent System Operator — and it would know. The organization runs most of the state’s power grid.

According to San Francisco Gate, that’s enough energy to power more than 6 million households.


This record is more than double the amount produced in May, when solar power impressively generated a little more than 50 percent of demand.

“I can tell you we had a great solar day,” Steven Greenly of California ISO told Good News Network.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
An array of solar panels in the desert in Victorville, California.

Not to mention that this new record was set solely by large solar plants. It doesn’t even take into consideration the 537,637 smaller solar penal arrays installed on private homes and business’ rooftops.

Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
Solar panels in a parking lot near downtown Los Angeles, California.

The San Francisco Gate does point out a downside, however. 

Just like the sun, solar power tends to peak mid-afternoon then plummets in late afternoon when the sun starts to go down. At that point California wind farms pick up the slack from late afternoon into the night. Problem is, electricity demand peaks at 6 p.m., which is the time  when the green energy is shifting from solar to wind power.

The rooftop of Odette Estate winery in Napa, California is brimming with solar power.

Yet the state is committed to embracing renewable energy.

California set a mandate that by 2020, 33 percent of its electricity generation would come from renewable sources. In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that ups the Golden State’s renewable energy game, requiring that 50 percent of all state-regulated utilities be sourced from solar, wind or hydro by 2030. 

George Rose via Getty Images
A large solar array that is adjacent to Charles M. Schulz Airport in Santa Rosa, California.

All the renewable progress in California has even prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to say at the bill-signing event in Los Angeles on October 7 that put the law into motion: 

“California is taking the lead, there is no question about it.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified California as the Sunshine State. We regret the error.