SEPA says utilities buying more solar

Electric utilities are buying more solar power facilities in addition to augmenting their portfolios with more solar capacity, according to the Solar Electric Power Association’s “2010 SEPA Utility Solar Rankings” report released on June 9.

The top utility with solar capacity was Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (NYSE: PCG) of California, which added 157 MW of solar to its grid last year. Florida Power & Light Co. (NYSE: FPL) came in second with 87 additional MW of solar, followed by Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NYSE: PEG), which added 75 MW of solar. In 2010, seven of the top 10 utilities with the largest additions of new solar capacity were located outside of California – about 63 percent of the new solar capacity.

“More and more utilities are integrating solar power into their energy portfolios, including many in states like New Jersey, Idaho and North Carolina,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. “Solar power has largely been associated only with California and the Southwest, but that’s no longer the case.”

Much of the added capacity was utility-owned, centralized projects, which rose to 226 MW in 2010 from 46 MW the previous year.

Of the 561 MW of solar added in 2010 by the top 10 utilities (776 MW of solar capacity was added all together in 2010), 140 MW are actually owned by utilities. This indicates an increase of more than 300 percent in utility-owned solar over 2009.

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