40% of California Grid Power from Solar, Sometimes Costs less than Nothing

April 15, 2017

For the first time, on the day of March 23, 40% of Californian grid power between 11 am and 2 pm was generated by utility-scale solar plants.
This proportion was a seasonal effect but not a fluke, and it certainly points to what will be routine in the very near future.
California has so much solar power now that sometimes the price of electricity turns negative. Natural gas plant owners actually have to pay the state to take their electricity when that happens. But they make up for it during high-demand periods.
The negative prices were not passed on to consumers because they get charged for the whole mix, and California electricity rates are among the highest in the country.
If you count in the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, then on that day at that time, California was actually getting fifty percent of its electricity from solar.
This level of solar electricity generation is new in California. During the past year, there has been a 50% increase in utility-scale solar generation.