Utilities getting on the solar bandwagon!

October 28, 2008 at 6:33 am 2 comments

Well it is finally starting to happen, large scale PV solar installations are being planned and installed.

Here in California, Souther California Edison (SCE: http://www.sce.com/) has a plan to install solar panels on 2 square miles of roofs out in an area of large warehouses and similar buildings.

Excerpt: ” Southern California Edison will install 250 megawatts of solar panels on 65 million square feet of roofs – that’s two square miles – of Southern California commercial buildings at a cost of $875 million. That project will be the nation’s largest solar cell installation. Enough solar to power 162,000 homes.

Here’s the plan. In the initial phase of the program, the utility will lease 607,000 square feet of roof space at ProLogis’ Kaiser Distribution Park in Fontana, California. The area will be used to install and maintain solar panels with the potential to generate enough electricity to power 1,426 households for one year.

However a more interesting scenario is developing in North Carolina where Duke Energy’s plan is to actually own all of the solar power producing installations in their service areas. (http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/05/13/with-100m-duke-energy-joins-rooftop-solar-movement/)

Excerpt:” The Charlotte, N.C.-based electric utility will tap into the market that has seen large investments in recent months from major utilities. It joins major solar investor Southern California Edison, which announced plans in March to invest $875M in 250 megawatts of solar panels on 65 million square feet of roofs — or two square miles — of commercial buildings in Southern California.

Like SCE, Duke plans to tie its panels into the existing grid; sell the excess power generated by its customers as if it were power from one of its plants.

SCE CEO Jim Rogers does not presently see wind energy a viable alternative since environmentalists would not favor wind farms along California’s coastal ridges where wind resources are usually at their peak. Duke Energy Indiana is selling electricity produced by a private wind farm.

Since this story broke back in May there have been unfortunate developments. Wal-Mart has sued saying that the program as proposed by Duke is unfair to companies like them who want to own there own solar installations. (http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/20/wal-mart-says-dukes-solar-roof-plan-unfair/). This happened on October 20th and by the 24th Duke had changed its tune: (http://www.environmentalleader.com/2008/10/24/duke-caves-to-criticism-halves-solar-plan/)

Excerpt: ” Duke Energy has decided to cut its $100 million distributed solar rooftop program in half after the company was criticized by companies such has Wal-Mart as being “unfair,” New York Times reports.

Duke Energy’s new program will spend $50 million to install 10 megawatts of solar panels in North Carolina. Under the new program, customers will pay on average an extra 8 cents per month as opposed to an extra 34 cents under the original plan.

The company says despite all the criticism, it has received requests from 460 customers interested in having solar installed as well as proposals from 70 solar installers wanting to participate.

I hope that this all gets worked out as I really don’t care how the solar power in my area is configured at this point.  I am fairly sure that utilities won’t be able to simply own all of the generating capacity as there are laws on the books preventing this at least in California. The sooner we get started on converting to this and other renewable sources the better off we will all be.

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Entry filed under: News, Solar Power. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jeff Dahlgren  |  October 28, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    Nice article and nice to see Utlilities jumping on board as well. The Government as part of the banking bail out has some how miraculously allowed a 8 year extension to the tax credit and most importantly lifted the 30% tax credit “cap” for home owners as well. Good news all around for solar power.

  • 2. Total Solar Energy  |  December 10, 2008 at 9:11 am

    yes, California is really going for it. A shining example to us all. I just wish the UK would start showing some initiative in solar power. If the Germans can do it, I don’t see why we can’t either


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