SEPA report finds 100% increase in utility integrated solar power

According to the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) 2010 Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings report, the top ranked utilities integrated 561 MW of solar electricity in 2010, showing 100 percent growth over one year. 

Utilities were scored in two areas: Solar megawatts installed in 2010 and solar watts per customer. Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association was the only Western customer to appear in the first category, acquiring 30.2 MW of new solar power last year. In the second category, Western customer Silicon Valley Power in California ranked first nationally with nearly 40 watts-per-customer. The City of Banning, also in California, moved into the Top 10 by providing more than 27 watts of solar generation per customer. 

The report indicated that market growth is increasingly occurring in areas outside of the solar resource-rich regions of California and the Southwest. Another emerging trend the report identified is the move toward more utility-owned solar projects and third-party power purchase agreements, like Tri-State’s purchase from the Cimarron Solar Facility in New Mexico.

While 30 utilities reported owning 140 MW of solar—a 300 percent increase in utility ownership over 2009—utility solar portfolios differed widely in solar project technologies and procurement strategies. Factors such as state policies, utility preference, solar resources, electricity prices and available incentives influence the make-up of the top 10 power providers’ solar holdings. In California, for example, interconnected customer systems continue to supply a significant amount of solar power for municipal utilities like Silicon Valley and City of Banning.

SEPA is holding a webinar June 23 to discuss the report and talk about how utilities are integrating solar power into their energy portfolios, how the solar market has changed and new market trends. The one-hour event will take place 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern. The cost is free to SEPA members and the media. Register online.