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Utilities Across the US Embracing Solar Energy

For the sixth year in a row, the U.S. Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has ranked utilities across the nation in terms of how much solar energy they have incorporated into their user base. This year's report shows that solar is spreading quickly across the country with new entrants from North Carolina, Tennessee and Ohio joining the old standbys.

The rankings break down solar installed capacity into many categories and RenewableEnergyWorld.com was offered a sneak peak into two of them.  SEPA’s Top 10 by Solar Megawatt ranks utilities by installed capacity for solar.  Together the top 10 account for 73 percent of all of the solar capacity that was installed in 2012. Among the top three in the Megawatt rankings are some of the nation’s largest utilities – California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company with 805 MW installed) and Southern California Edison (194 MW) plus Public Service Electric & Gas Co in NJ, which installed 144 MW.  These utilities often rank highly in this category, says SEPA, due to their expansive customer solar programs and utility purchasing programs.

Rounding out the Megawatt list are:

  • Arizona Public Service — 123 MW
  • NV Energy — 102 MW
  • Jersey Central Power & Light — 98 MW
  • Tucson Electric Power Co. — 73 MW
  • Progress Energy Carolinas — 69 MW
  • Sacramento Municipal Utility District — 65.8 MW
  • Hawaiian Electric Co. — 65.1 MW

This is the first year that Progress Energy Carolina’s made the list, whereas all the others were previously ranked in 2011. This is the fifth year that Pacific Gas and Electric Company has topped the list.

SEPA also ranks utilities on a watts-per-customers basis, showing which utilities made significant strides in powering their customers’ homes and businesses with solar energy. Leading the Solar Watts-Per-Customer rankings are many municipal utilities including the City of St. Mary’s, Ohio, with 562 watts per customer, Kauai Island Utility Co-op in Hawaii (282 W per customer) and Bryan Municipal Utilities in Ohio (275 W per customer). Both Ohio utilities were not previously ranked and Kauai moved up from number 12 in the 2011 ratings. The remaining Top 10 providers include Hawaiian Electric Co., Chickasaw (Tenn.) Electric Co-op, Maui (Hawaii) Electric Co., Imperial Irrigation District in Calif., Tucson (Ariz.) Electric Power Co., City of Napoleon in Ohio and Vineland Municipal Electric Utility in N.J.

Julia Hamm, SEPA’s president and CEO said she was “impressed” with the number of utilities that had moved into the top 10. SEPA works to education utility companies about solar energy and help solar companies understand the complexities of the utility business model and it’s work is clearly having an impact. 

The full report will be released next month. You can check out the 2011 solar rankings at this link.

Lead image: Solar Panel via Shutterstock

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Jennifer Runyon is chief editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com and Renewable Energy World magazine, coordinating, writing and/or editing columns, features, news stories and blogs for the publications. She also serves as conference chair of Renewable ...

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