Project Focus: CPUC approves SoCal Edison IPP solicitation process for 250MW solar rooftop program

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Solar photovoltaic system integrators and developers take note: there will soon be many megawatts of rooftop projects open for bidding. The California Public Utilities Commission has okayed a solicitation process in which Southern California Edison will offer independent project developers long-term contracts to install 250MW of PV on commercial rooftops.

The solicitation is part of a June 2009 CPUC decision expanding a renewable energy generation plan proposed by the utility to install two square miles of solar panels on large commercial rooftops.







In the latest move, regulators not only approved the proposed 250MW of the local utility-owned and -operated systems but asked SCE to invite independent power producers to add another 250MW of solar generation to the project.

With a total generating capacity of 500MW, the two programs will become one of the largest U.S. photovoltaic programs undertaken so far.  At peak operation, the combined output will meet the needs of 325,000 average Southern California homes, according to SCE.

Edison spokesman Gil Alexander told PV Tech in an email that CPUC, during its Jan. 25 business meeting, had “approved the details we proposed of a competitive solicitation seeking long-term agreements with independent power producers (IPPs) willing to install 250 MW of rooftop PV generation within our service area.”

“Our renewable energy procurement team plans to launch the solicitation within the next 60 days,” he added, “reviewing bids and selecting winners by the end of the year that will be submitted to regulators for approval.”

The first two commercial rooftop installations in SCE’s part of this project, both equipped with First Solar CdTe thin-film modules, are already providing power: a 33,700-panel, 2MW installation (shown above) came online in the Fontana area in fall 2008, while a 16,200-panel, 1MW system in Chino was grid-connected in October 2009.

A third rooftop system will soon be announced, which the utility says will come “online in time to help meet our customers’ peak summer demand,” according to Alexander.

Published reports have suggested that the latest installation is also comprised of First Solar panels.

“We expect to install the utility part of the project at a rate of 50MW per year, beginning this year,” he said.

At that rate of deployment, SCE’s portion of the rooftop project would be completed in 2014.

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