Wednesday, March 18, 2009

California’s Public Utilities Commission plans to develop solar thermal generation

California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved plans to develop up to 245 MW of concentrating solar thermal generation in the state, under the terms of a deal between Edison International unit Southern California Edison (SCE) and plant developer eSolar.

The decision follows a 20-year power purchase agreement between Edison and eSolar for output from the facility, signed in June. CPUC approval allows Edison to recover the costs from consumers.

To be built in Kern County, the plant is to be financed by Google.org, Idealab and Oak Investment Partners.

In related news, First Solar, Inc. says it has completed a 2 MW PV installation for SCE which is installed on the rooftop of a commercial building in Fontana, California. This is the first project in SCE’s announced plan to install 250 MW of solar generating capacity on large commercial rooftops throughout Southern California over the next five years. Overall, the programme is expected to see some 150 solar installations developed across the state.

The distribution warehouse roof selected as the first installation site has been fitted with 33,700 thin-film solar panels making it the largest single rooftop solar PV array in California. First Solar engineered the system, manufactured the modules and supplied balance-of-system equipment.

Under a formal bid process, SCE has also announced the selection of First Solar for the second project of its 250 MW rooftop initiative, a 1 MW project installed on a commercial building in Chino owned by the Multi-Employer Property Trust.

Ted Craver, chairman and CEO of SCE parent company Edison International said: ‘A programme of this scale could transform solar generation, helping bring costs down and providing us with another important way to meet the environmental challenges of the future.’

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said: ‘Edison’s rooftop plan is the nation’s largest solar installation programme by a utility.’