Utilities outside California are adding more solar, SEPA finds

More utilities outside California are adding solar SEPA findsOther than the fact that the Solar Electric Power Association’s top 10 U.S. utilities integrated 561 megawatts of solar in 2010—up just over 100 percent from the 279 megawatts the utilities integrated in 2009—SEPA’s "2010 Utility Solar Rankings" found something interesting. For the first time, more of the top utilities weren’t in California, and some weren’t even in the Southwest.

It’s the fourth annual year that the organization has released the rankings. And this year’s ranking revealed that California is no longer the sole market for solar installations.

“What’s happening now in terms of projects is you see more activity in states outside of California—more than ever before,” said SEPA spokesperson Don Lintvet.

“Of the Top 10 ranked utilities, seven of which are from outside of California contributed 561 MW of solar electric capacity. Actually, SEPA found that 63 percent of the utilities from outside of California are the largest percentage accounted,” the report said. “In 2010, thirty utilities reported owning 140 MW of solar, which is a drastic 300 percent increase from 2009.”

Utilities in other states like Florida and New Jersey took a more prominent place in the list, according to Lintvet.

“Not necessarily states you would expect to be growing in terms of solar,” he said.

Still, a California utility integrated the most solar last year.

“Pacific Gas & Electric, which put in a further 157 megawatts of solar power capacity in 2010, topped the Solar Megawatt ranking, while its competitor Florida Power & Light Company secured a second place with 82 MW of added solar capacity. The third spot was held by the New Jersey’s Public Service Electric & Gas Co., which added 75 MW of solar capacity in 2010,” the report said.

The report also showed a fundamental shift in the types of solar projects from independent projects to centralized, utility-scale projects that are being integrated into the grid and utilities. The centralized solar power generation includes a mix of utility-owned projects and developer-owned projects that sell the power generated to the utilities.

“It’s a trend that we do expect to continue as there are more and more announcements of projects,” Lintvet said.

Image courtesy of SEPA.