Environmental Protection

Calif. Regulators OK Largest Solar Panel Project

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan proposed by Southern California Edison (SCE) for the largest U.S. installation of advanced solar panels on otherwise unused large commercial rooftops across Southern California.

During the next five years, SCE will install, own, and operate 250 megawatts of solar generating capacity. The utility also will conduct competitive solicitations offering long-term power contracts to independent solar power providers who will install an additional 250 megawatts, bringing to 500 megawatts the total generating capacity of the project — the largest photovoltaic program ever undertaken.

"This innovative solar rooftop project is part of Edison International's 25-year commitment to developing cleaner renewable and alternative energy sources for our customers," said Theodore F. Craver, Jr., Edison International chair and chief executive officer. "The program will create hundreds of neighborhood solar power plants, strengthen local grid reliability and produce hundreds of new green jobs to bolster Southern California's economic recovery."

During the fall of 2008, SCE completed the first of what eventually will be about 150 sites making up this program, a 600,000-square-foot Fontana, Calif. distribution warehouse roof. The rooftop now holds 33,700 advanced thin-film solar panels with a generating capacity of 2.4 megawatts of direct current power, known as DC power — the largest single rooftop solar photovoltaic array in the nation. SCE already has begun construction of its second installation atop a 458,000-square-foot industrial building in Chino, Calif. First Solar of Tempe, Ariz. was the winning bidder to supply panels for these first two installations.

Based on today's regulatory approval, competitive solicitations will take place for the remaining roof leases and equipment needed for the 250 megawatts of facilities SCE will install and operate. A limited number of ground mounted installations also will be considered as part of SCE's solar program. Competitive solicitations also will take place for 250 megawatts of long-term power contracts SCE will offer independent power providers who construct similar solar installations.

Southern California Edison is one of the nation's largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal, and Southern California.

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