SEPA’s Fourth Annual Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings that analyzes utility solar electricity markets in the United States found that in 2010, utility integrated solar grew 100% from 2009. 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% of the utilities from outside of California are the largest percentage accounted. In 2010, thirty utilities reported owning 140 MW of solar which is a drastic 300% increase from 2009.
SEPA’s annual rankings measure a utility’s recently installed solar power and include photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technologies that were incorporated between January 1 and December 31, 2010. The rankings are categorized into ‘Solar Megawatts’ which measures a utility’s total solar capacities and ‘Solar Watts-per-Customer (w/c)’ which regulates solar capacity by the size of the utility.
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) which put in a further 157 MW of solar power capacity in 2010 topped the Solar Megawatt ranking whilst 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. (PSEG), which added 75 MW of solar capacity in 2010.
The Solar Watts-per-Customer (w/c) was topped by California’s Silicon Valley Power by adding 40-watts per customer. Just 5 watts behind Silicon Valley Power was runner up Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (PSEG) at 35.2-watts per customer. The competition was tight for the third spot with Hawaiian Electric Company Inc. snatching it with 33.2-watts per customer.
SEPA’s report concluded that this year’s Top 10 not only portrays a rapid rise in the solar instalments on utility grids but a inclination towards utility-led initiatives; the reason behind the expansion of the solar market. Until a few years ago, the solar utilities installed were customer dominated, net metered systems. In 2010, the prominence shifted to large, centralized plants and utility-owned projects.