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PG&E Tops Utility Ranking for Solar Integration

Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) topped the list of utilities with the most solar megawatts (MW) added to the grid for the second straight year with 85.2 MW, according to the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA) third annual Top Ten Utility Solar Rankings (PDF). Southern California Edison followed close behind with 74 MW, growing 131 percent over the previous year’s total.

New to the Top Ten ranking are Florida Power & Light Company at number 4 (29.5 MW, not ranked in 2008), Salt River Project (Arizona) at number 8 (5.8 MW, ranked 25 in 2008), and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power at number 10 (4.889 MW, ranked 12 in 2008).

Here’s the top ten ranking:

–Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (CA)

–Southern California Edison (CA)

–Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ)

–NR Florida Power & Light Co. (FL)

–San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (CA)

–Public Service Co. of CO-Xcel Energy (CO)

–Arizona Public Service Co. (AZ)

–Salt River Project (AZ)

–Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA)

–Los Angeles Dept. of Water & Power (CA)

A major finding shows that the top ten utilities expanded their solar megawatts by 66 percent, reaching 279 MW in 2009 up from 169 MW in 2008, with photovoltaics accounting for 98 percent of the installed megawatts, compared with only two small concentrating solar power projects coming online in Hawaii and California. The study suggests that the growth was driven in part by a drop in price for solar modules and systems worldwide.

SEPA says these ten utilities represent 80 percent of the survey total and are a focal point for the nation’s solar activity.

Another key finding shows that the Top Ten utilities’ share of overall solar generation in the survey dropped from 88 percent in 2008 to 80 percent in 2009, indicating increasing solar activity by utilities outside of the Top Ten, says SEPA.

The report also ranks utilities by solar watts-per-customer. Newcomer Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative (AZ) took the top spot, followed by Maui Electric (HI), Hawaii Electric Light Company (HI), the City of Santa Clara/Silicon Valley Power (CA), Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Black Hills Energy (CO), PG&E, Hawaiian Electric Co. (HI), Southern California Edison (CA) and Graham County Electric Co-op (AZ).

Graham County Electric Cooperative is new to the list at number ten. Only Southern California Edison and PG&E made both annual ranking lists.

SEPA believes the 2009 rankings were impacted in part by several centralized or aggregated distributed solar projects that were built or began construction, and several utilities that were directly involved in owning new solar projects.

Installations on the utility side of the meter increased 267 percent from around 18 MW in 2008 to 65 MW in 2009 and made up 19 percent of the survey’s total, up from 9 percent the previous year.

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