Tag Archives: Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison Connects 32-Acre, 5 Million Watt Solar Array to its Grid

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Feb. 24, 2011 – Southern California Edison (SCE) today connected the state’s largest investor-owned utility photovoltaic plant to its Central Valley power grid. The new generating station, the utility’s first ground-mount PV installation, covers 32 acres of land SCE has leased from the city of Porterville, Calif. It adds 5 million watts of peak capacity – enough power to serve 3,250 average homes – to SCE’s network of 11 solar stations.

Construction and testing of the 29,426-panel solar array near the Porterville Municipal Airport took about six months and created 125 jobs. The new Central Valley solar station is connected directly to the utility’s neighborhood power circuits and benefits all SCE customers in the region.

“Our hope when we launched SCE’s Solar PV Program was that it would help California achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals, while increasing industry knowledge about solar PV efficiency and interaction with local distribution circuits,” said Mark Nelson, SCE’s director of Generation Planning and Strategy. “That hope has become a reality.”

In addition to building its own network of 40-50 solar stations, SCE is signing power purchase agreements with independent producers willing to construct a similar number of solar plants collectively. The combined installations are expected to create some 1,200 jobs in all.

“It is more than exciting for Porterville to take this first step with SCE. Hopefully, in years to come, a solar project like this will be commonplace,” said Mayor Ronald Irish.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

Southern California Edison Signs Contracts for More Than 800 Megawatts of Solar Photovoltaic Power

Photo credit: Southern California Edison

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Jan. 10, 2011 — Southern California Edison (SCE) has signed contracts with SunPower Corp. and Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, Inc. (FRV) for more than 800 megawatts of electricity created from sunlight that will go directly to the California power grid. The contracts will include one of the country’s largest single solar photovoltaic installations.

Electricity generated as a result of these contracts will total 831 megawatts. Three contracts with SunPower will total 711 megawatts and include one of the largest single solar photovoltaic installations – 325 megawatts – in the United States. Contracts with FRV allow for the delivery of 120 megawatts of solar energy from four projects.

“This is an unprecedented time for solar photovoltaic,” said Marc Ulrich, SCE’s vice president, Renewable and Alternative Power. “We’re seeing growth in technological advances and manufacturing efficiencies that result in competitive prices for green, emission-free energy for our customers.”

The solar photovoltaic projects are located California’s Kern, Los Angeles and Merced counties. SCE estimates that when the projects all come online, the 831-megawatt capacity will be enough to power more than 540,000 average California homes.

The three contracts with SunPower include:
~ 110 megawatts from Solar Star California XIII, LLC, located in Los Banos, scheduled to be operational by Dec. 31, 2014.
~ 325 megawatts from Solar Star California XIX, LLC, located in Rosamond, scheduled to be operational by Oct. 31, 2016.
~ 276 megawatts from Solar Star California XX, LLC, located in Rosamond, scheduled to be operational by Oct. 31, 2016.

The four contracts with FRV include:
~ 60 megawatts from Regulus Solar L.P., located in Lamont, scheduled to be operational by Dec. 31, 2013.
~ 20 megawatts from Cygnus Solar L.P., located in Arvin, scheduled to be operational by Sept. 30, 2013.
~ 20 megawatts from Mojave Solar L.P., located in Mojave, scheduled to be operational by Dec. 31, 2013.
~20 megawatts from Mojave Solar 4 L.P., located in Lancaster, scheduled to be operational by Dec. 31, 2013.

The projects will interconnect with existing and forthcoming transmission lines.

These contracts are a result of SCE’s competitive renewables solicitation, and are contingent on approval by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Southern California Edison is the nation’s leading utility for renewables. In 2009, SCE delivered 13.6 billion kilowatt hours of renewable power to its customers, about 17 percent of its total power portfolio.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

Southern California Edison Awards 36 Contracts for Utility-Scale Solar Rooftop Project

Southern California Edison (SCE) awarded 36 contracts to independent power producers for a total of nearly 60 megawatts from photovoltaic solar panels that will produce emission-free energy for SCE customers. The panels will be installed on 31 unused rooftops and five ground-mount sites in SCE’s service territory.

The solar rooftop project, approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in June 2009, calls for a total of 500 megawatts of  solar generating capacity, most of it on otherwise unused large warehouse rooftops. Half of the 500 megawatts will be from independent power producers who respond to SCE’s request for offers under competitive solicitations; the remaining 250 megawatts will be owned and operated by SCE. It is expected that this project will create about 1,200 jobs for Southern Californians.

“These contracts make significant strides toward distributed renewable generation for one of the most innovative solar programs in the country,” said Marc Ulrich, SCE vice president, Renewable and Alternative Power. “We’re working to help California meet its Million Solar Roofs goal and supply even more renewable energy to our customers where and when it’s most needed, without the added time and expense to construct major new transmission facilities.” The contracts awarded today are the first executed under the competitive solicitations for independent power producers.

SCE believes that its solar rooftop project will be a boon for the solar industry and consumers alike, with the resulting cost per unit significantly more cost effective than more common residential photovoltaic installations in California. Eventually, this could help drive down installation costs of photovoltaic generation for everyone. When complete, the solar panels will cover an area totaling 4 square miles on about 250 otherwise unused warehouse roofs. The total power production will rival a utility-scale power plant, enough electricity to serve 325,000 average homes at a point in time. SCE has already installed panels on three rooftop warehouses in California’s Inland Empire that are delivering – or are in line to deliver – electricity to the grid.

SCE is the nation’s leading utility for renewable energy. In 2009, SCE delivered 13.6 billion kilowatt hours of renewable power to its customers, about 17 percent of its total power portfolio.

eSolar unveils new solar energy plant

By Danny Vo, Coolerplanet.com

The solar energy industry took a step forward this week as eSolar unveiled a new solar thermal tower in California.

According to the company, its 5-megawatt Sierra SunTower plant is currently the only one of its kind in the country. The facility will be able to power at least 4,000 California homes through Southern California Electric.

“Sierra is just the beginning. Soon eSolar technology will be deployed worldwide to provide clean, affordable energy to hundreds of thousands of homes,” said eSolar CEO Bill Gross.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also praised the “historic plant opening” that had been helped along by the state’s solar-friendly policies.

The plant will use thousands of mirrors to focus sunlight onto a tower containing fluid that is heated to power turbines. According to eSolar, the project was completed in under a year and created 300 construction jobs while it was in development.

A number of other utility-scale solar energy plants are expected to go online early in the next decade, especially in various parts of the Southwest.

Biggest Solar Deal Ever Announced — We’re Talking Gigawatts

By Alexis Madrigal, blog.wired.com

(Credit: BrightSource Energy)

(Credit: BrightSource Energy)

The largest series of solar installations in history, more than 1,300 megawatts, is planned for the desert outside Los Angeles, according to a new deal between the utility Southern California Edison and solar power plant maker, BrightSource.

The momentous deal will deliver more electricity than even the largest nuclear plant, spread out among seven facilities, the first of which will start up in 2013. When fully operational, the companies say the facility will provide enough electricity to power 845,000 homes — more than exist in San Francisco — though estimates like that are notoriously squirrely.

The technology isn’t the familiar photovoltaics — the direct conversion of sunlight into electricity — but solar thermal power, which concentrates the sun’s rays to create steam in a boiler and spin a turbine.

“We do see solar as the large untapped resource, particularly in Southern California,” said Stuart Hemphill, vice president of renewable energy and power at Southern California Edison. “It’s barely tapped and we’re eager to see it expand in our portfolio.”

BrightSource is the reincarnation of Luz International, which built the only currently operating solar thermal facility during the 1980s in the Mojave Desert. After natural gas and energy prices plunged in 1985, that operation became unprofitable. The group’s engineers and founders moved the business to Israel, where they continued to work on their technology.

The new deal breaks the company’s own record for the largest ever solar deal. The new installations, when completed, will produce 3.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Previously, they’d cut a deal to deliver 900 megawatts of power to the Northern California utility, PG&E.

“Coupled with our earlier partnership with PG&E, this agreement proves that the energy industry recognizes the important role that solar thermal will play in the energy future,” John Woolard, CEO of BrightSource, said in a press conference with reporters.

While Brightsource is a leader in the field, a variety of other companies compete in the solar thermal space. Google.org and other investors have backed eSolar’s with $130 million funding. Abu Dhabi’s clean-tech fund, Masdar, has funded a $1.2 billion solar thermal company called Torresol. Yet another player, Abengoa, recently signed a $4 billion deal with Arizona Public Utilities, and Stirling Energy Systems, a company that has adapted the Stirling Engine, a 200-year-old invention, for concentrated solar power, even pulled in a $100 million investment.

The first of the seven installations will be in Ivanpah, California and will be rated at 100 megawatts of peak power. The companies expect it to produce 286,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year. When all the installations are finished, they’ll stretch over 10,500 acres of land.

Southern California Edison’s Hemphill said that the new plants would provide a valuable hedge against volatile natural gas prices, noting that his company had seen natural gas prices as low as $4 per thousand million cubic feet (a standard industry measure) and as high as $16. Given the variability of natural gas pricing, Hemphill said that his company did not expect the solar thermal electricity to exceed the market cost of electricity in California.

The 1980s-era solar thermal plants use the oldest solar thermal technology around, known as a parabolic trough. Mirrors shaped like a paper-towel roll cut in half concentrate the sun’s rays on a liquid. That heat can be transformed into various types of energy. The Luz fields made electricity, but Frank Shuman built a plant based on this principle to pump water in Egypt in the first decade of the 20th century.

The new design  sounds more exciting. Mirrors that track the sun — heliostats — sit in a massive field around a tower with a boiler. All those mirrors concentrate the sun’s heat on the boiler, which makes steam and drives a turbine.

Solar thermal is seen as a promising source of energy for city-scale power because it works on very well established principles. Photovoltaics have come down in price — and thin-film plastic solar cells could get even cheaper — but the conversion of sunlight to electricity remains a novel source of energy. The first working cells were only built half a century ago, and they were truly something new in the world.

Steam-driven turbines, on the other hand, make almost 90 percent of the world’s electricity and their ancestry stretches back to the start of the Industrial Revolution. Solar thermal engineers, then, can use the knowledge gained from more than a century of tinkering at coal, natural gas, and nuclear fission plants.