Report: California Utilities Lead the Nation in Solar Energy
July 30, 2008
Two California utilities—Southern California Edison (SCE) and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)—lead the nation in terms of the amount of solar energy integrated into their energy mix, according to the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). SEPA's top ten rankings of solar-integrated utilities, released on July 24, found that SCE leads in terms of both its total solar electric capacity and in its solar capacity per customer, while PG&E leads in the same categories for solar power systems installed on the customer side of the meter. The SEPA report does not reveal actual capacity figures due to "privacy concerns," but one reason that SCE leads the nation is that it buys power from nine large concentrating solar thermal power plants in the Mojave Desert, which have a combined generating capacity of about 350 megawatts.
When the list is divided into investor-owned utilities and public power utilities, another California utility leads the list of public utilities with the most total solar capacity, namely, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The Los Angeles utility also has the most customer-located solar power of any public utility. California's dominance of solar power is not total, however, as the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii leads the public utilities in terms of solar capacity per customer, both overall and for customer-owned systems. And with plans for large solar power systems in such places as Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York, SEPA expects the leaders of its top ten rankings to shift in the future. Along with Hawaii, utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are currently on SEPA's top ten lists, and with aggressive state policies and incentives, a number of utilities in these states could rise to the top in the future. See the SEPA press release (PDF 88 KB) and full report (PDF 980 KB). Download Adobe Reader.