PG&E Set To Launch 500-MW Solar PV Initiative

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) said it plans to begin implementing a major new solar photovoltaic (PV) program, which the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved this week. The program, once complete, will see up to 500 megawatts (MW) of solar PV systems installed in PG&E’s service area.

“We applaud the CPUC’s decision to approve this important renewable energy initiative and look forward to beginning its implementation,” said Steve Malnight, the utility’s vice president for renewable energy. “This program will provide our customers with timely access to solar power and create local benefits including green jobs for the communities we serve.”

The five-year initiative will consist of up to 250 MW of utility-owned PV generation and another 250 MW provided by independent developers through a streamlined regulatory process. The moderately sized projects targeted by PG&E’s initiative, ranging from 1 MW to 20 MW, should require less time to plan and build than many large projects that have faced lengthy delays. Projects to be owned by PG&E will be located near company substations to reduce the costs and delays of interconnecting them to the power grid.

The program was orignally announced in Feburary 2009 and if all projects are up and running by 2015, they are expected to deliver more than 1,000 gigawatt-hours of power each year, equal to the annual consumption of about 150,000 average homes. In all, this program would meet close to 1.3 percent of PG&E’s electric demand.

The program consists of up to 250 MW of utility-owned PV generation, PG&E’s first direct investment in renewable generation in over a decade, and an additional 250 MW to be built and owned by independent developers under a streamlined regulatory process.

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