Former Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown visited Buchanan High School in Clovis Friday to celebrate the state reaching its One Million Solar Roofs milestone.
School staff, students, former and current elected officials, solar business leaders and workers, clean air and energy advocates and local media gathered at the school amphitheater to hear the main speakers.
As California’s governor, Schwarzenegger signed the Million Solar Roofs Initiative into law in 2006, setting a goal of building one million solar energy systems on homes, schools, farms, and businesses throughout the state.
“We have built — thanks to this initiative that these gentlemen put in place and ushered through to completion — a stable market that allowed businesses to ramp up their investments in this technology and allowed workers to decide to get the training they needed to go into the job. We did it with ability to have a long-term program, government got behind it and gave consumers confidence to make the investment. We have the most stable market of anywhere in the world,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director at the California Solar and Storage Association.
In 2012 Clovis Unified School District installed solar panels on four sites, and within a year, solar panels had been installed on 23 sites. Currently there are solar energy systems at 46 of the district sites and provides 51% the district’s electrical needs and benefits $4 million a year in cost avoidance.
After a speech by Brown, in which he talked about his early environmental efforts as a governor in the ‘70s to praising the efforts in Fresno and Clovis Unified, Schwarzenegger took the stage.
In his speech, Schwarzenegger said that he always called the Central Valley the “abs of California” because it was so important to the rest of the body. The celebration of the one-millionth solar panel installed is a success because of the community as well.
“First the idea came for 100,000 [solar panels], you know politicians,” the former governor said. They always pick local goals because they’re doable. Local goals don’t make history…they’re not really having that much impact, so I said ‘lets think big.’”
After the speech, the governors were presented with what was billed to be the millionth solar panel installed, adorned with a commemorative plaque.
To people who say environmental policies and laws from the state are strangling businesses in California, Schwarzenegger said: “We have the toughest environmental laws in California, but at the same time we have the No. 1 economy in the United States and the fifth largest economy in the world. We are the perfect example of when you go in the direction of creating green energy, it creates a whole new industry.”