California remains solar net metering leader


Julia Hamm,
Executive Director,
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — May 29, 2009 – California remains the leading state in the United States in terms of solar net metering with the three investor owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), topping the rankings for solar megawatts installed on the customer side of the meter both in 2008 and cumulatively.

PG&E installed 74.9 MW in 2008, bringing its total to 219.1 MW. SCE installed 30.4 MW in 2008, bringing its total to 85.5 MW. SDG&E installed 15.3 MW in 2008, bringing its total to 48.3 MW.

These findings are presented in the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) second annual ranking on utility solar integration for 2008, which presents information on solar technologies including photovoltaic and concentrating solar power on both the customer and utility sides of the meter.

Of the more than 3000 utilities in the U.S., SEPA targeted the 100 most “solar-active” and 92 of those participated in the survey.

However, when broken down to solar watts per customers, Kauai Island Utility Coop in Hawaii was the leader, with an installation in 2008 of 47.1 W per customer bringing its cumulative total to 70.6 W per customers. In second place is Palo Alto Utilities (CA), with an installation of 44.4 W per customer in 2008 and a total of 70.4 W per customer, and third is PG&E with 14.5 W per customer installed in 2008 and a total of 42.3 W per customer.

The report says that overall the three California IOUs were the most solar integrated in 2008, with the most new capacity installed or interconnected, both on the customer and utility sides. However, utilities in seven different states placed in the top ten, which represent 88 percent of the surveyed megawatt total.

In a statement the SEPA says the report demonstrates 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.

“This year’s report demonstrates that solar electricity is finally on the radar screen of utilities across the country,” said Julia Hamm, executive director of the SEPA. “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 SEPA says that also apparent is 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. Historically, the solar power market has been dominated by customer-driven installations.

“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,” added 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.”