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SEPA releases 2008 Top Ten US Utility Solar Integration Rankings

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has issued a report demonstrating that the solar industry has responded to SEPA Executive Director Julia Hamm’s challenge to the solar and utility industries to deploy solar power on a massive scale despite new economic barriers at Solar Power last autumn.

SEPA's 2008 Top Ten Utility Solar Integration Rankings report ranks utilities with the most integrated solar electricity and records the increased collaboration of the US electric utility and solar energy industries.

Overall Rankings:

New Projects in 2008

Total Solar Megawatts

  • Participating utilities saw an average increase of 2 MW and a median of 0.1 MW of solar added to their portfolio in 2008;
  • The Top Ten utilities represented 88% of the survey MW total;
  • Utilities in 7 different states placed in the Top Ten.

Total Solar Watts per Customer

  • Participating utilities saw an average increase of 33 W per customer and a median of 1 W per customer of solar added to their portfolio in 2008;
  • 9 of the Top Ten utilities are from California and Hawaii.

Cumulative

Total Solar Megawatts

  • Participating utilities had an average of 11 MW and a median of 0.2 MW of solar in their cumulative portfolio;
  • The Top Ten utilities represented 93% of the survey megawatt total;
  • Utilities in 6 different states placed in the Top Ten.

Total Solar Watts per Customer

  • Participating utilities had an average of 97 W per customer and a median of 2 W per customer of solar in their cumulative portfolio;
  • 9 of the Top Ten utilities are from California and Hawaii.

According to SEPA, the report shows that the utility segment is making “a major investment to increase the amount of solar energy in power portfolios, with many utilities doubling the amount of solar power in their portfolio in just one year.”

The overall installed solar capacity of the top 10 ranked utilities rose 25% from 711 MW to 882 MW. The survey looked at 92 utilities, 80% more than from last year’s report.

"This year's report demonstrates that solar electricity is finally on the radar screen of utilities across the country," says Hamm. "Solar plants large and small are ready for significant build-out, and the utility industry is moving quickly toward mass adoption to meet a variety of business needs."

The report documents a wave of utility-driven installations, pointing to the growing importance of utilities in the solar power market, and the growing importance of solar power to the business of utilities.

"Residential and commercial photovoltaic projects will continue to be important stimulants for job creation and small business growth, but they will be complemented by large-scale photovoltaic and concentrating solar power projects," says Mike Taylor, Director of Research and Education at SEPA. "The variety of ways solar power is being implemented signals an increased maturity in the market."

The winners:

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, based in San Francisco, California, came top with 85 MW new capacity (representing 44% of survey total). Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric came second and third.

For the solar watts-per-customer category in 2008, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), a water utility that provides electrical generation to its municipal buildings, ranked first with almost 2700 W per customer for its 340 customer sites.

Second and third were Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii and Palo Alto Utilities in Northern California.

On a cumulative solar megawatt basis, Southern California Edison was ranked first, followed by Pacific Gas & Electric and NV Energy, a Nevada utility.

Cumulatively in watts per customer, SFPUC ranked first again, followed by the Port of Oakland, and Southern California Edison.

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