Report Ranks PG&E and SCE Tops for Solar

Report Ranks PG&E and SCE Tops for Solar

Future climate change regulations, state renewables portfolio standards and power generation cost volatility are driving the nation’s utilities toward solar power.

San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) led the pack in 2008, according to a new report from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). The trade group named PG&E the most solar integrated utility due to the 85 megawatts of new capacity.

Two other California utilities -- Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric Co. -- took second and third place in SEPA’s “2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings,” which was released last week. 2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings  2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings
On a cumulative basis, Southern California Edison took the top spot, with 441 megawatts of interconnected solar power.
2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings  2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings

SEPA believes the report shows utilities are making major investments in adding solar electricity into their portfolios, with some utilities doubling their solar energy capacity in one year.

“This year’s report demonstrates that solar electricity is finally on the radar screen of utilities across the country,” SEPA Executive Director Julia Hamm said in a statement.  “Solar plants large and small are ready for significant build-out, and the utility industry is moving quickly toward mass adoption to meet a variety of business needs.”  

The move toward distributed solar generation projects -- where utilities own solar energy arrays at customer sites -- is responsible for nearly all 2008 solar power growth, rather than centralized solar electric plants, although SEPA expects centralized plants will play an equal or larger role in the future.

The report, based on survey results of 92 utilities, sliced the data several ways to create multiple rankings, such as total solar watts per customer and total solar megawatts for 2008 activity and cumulatively, by regional and by utility type.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission had the highest watts-per-customer for both 2008 and cumulatively.

California utilities figured prominently in the rankings, due in large part to the state’s renewables portfolio standard, which requires utilities to procure 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2010. However, utilities in seven states placed in the top 10 rankings for total solar megawatts in 2008.

Image CC-licensed by Flickr user Mountain/\Ash.