ROSEMEAD, Calif. - Southern California Edison (SCE) has announced completion of the first of its proposed 150 solar photovoltaic installations on Southern California commercial rooftops. The project could eventually cover two square miles of existing commercial roofs with 250 million watts of peak generating capacity - equivalent to building several utility-scale solar power plants.

During recent months, the 600,000-square-foot Fontana, Calif., distribution warehouse roof selected as the first installation site has been fitted with 33,700 advanced thin-film solar panels making it the largest single rooftop solar photovoltaic array in California. The facility now generates enough power during peak output conditions to meet the needs of approximately 1,300 Inland Empire homes.

“Here in California, we are taking action to protect the environment by passing laws and setting standards and our companies and entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge,” said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Edison’s rooftop plan is the nation’s largest solar installation program by a utility and it is just one example of how private companies are helping us reduce our emissions and meet our renewable energy goals. Projects like this one show the world you can protect the environment and also pump up the economy, and I am proud to say it is happening right here in California.”

“This innovative solar rooftop initiative is a natural extension of our industry leadership in renewable energy,” said Ted Craver, Edison International chairman and CEO. “We are driving solar technology forward and identifying creative new ways to integrate solar power into the electricity grid. A program of this scale could transform solar generation, helping bring costs down and providing us with another important way to meet the environmental challenges of the future.”

SCE officials also announced the choice of their next solar installation site. The utility will begin construction atop a 458,000-square-foot industrial building in Chino, Calif., owned by the Multi-Employer Property Trust, and advised by Kennedy Associates. Additionally, the utility announced that the solar panel supplier for the Fontana installation - First Solar of Tempe, Ariz. - is once again the winning bidder for the utility’s second installation. Decisions have not been made on other building sites.

SCE said this project was prompted by advances in solar technology that reduce the cost of installed photovoltaic generation to approximately half that of current similar installations. Additionally, the utility hopes to fill a gap it has observed in current rooftop solar projects in the state - mid-range 1- to 2-megawatt installations.

“SCE is one of the nation’s leading utilities. We commend their strategic decision to invest in utility retained generation; this pilot program is sited in the high peak load areas and will provide efficiencies to the grid while creating hundreds of jobs in California,” said John Carrington, First Solar executive vice president of global marketing and business development. “We are excited to have been awarded the first and second pilots in SCE’s commercial solar rooftop installation project and look forward to working together on future opportunities.”

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Publication date:01/05/2009