Average solar-powered electricity generation declined by 30% across California compared to the July 2020 average due to smoke from wildfires across the state, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday.
The agency said small airborne particles decreased the amount of sunlight hitting the panels, slashing the solar energy in California by about a third during the first two weeks of September compared to the same time last year.
As of Sept. 28, 2020, California wildfires burned an estimated 3.6 million acres, an area about the size of Connecticut, the EIA said.
According to data from the California Air Resources Board, peak California PM2.5 pollution, a fine air pollutant matter that is a concern for people's health, began increasing in mid-August and reached a record high of 659 micrograms per cubic meter on Sept. 15, the highest level since record keeping began in 2000.
In 2018, solar provided 19% of California's electricity generation, a higher percentage than any other state, according to the EIA.
By Sibel Morrow