Southern California Edison to Complete Big Solar Power Project


Southern California Edison signed a deal with Arizona’s First Solar, Inc., in which the companies will construct two solar power facilities (one near Desert City in Riverside County and another in San Bernardino County). First Solar will begin building the 250-megawatt Riverside facility in 2012 and the 300-megawatt San Bernardino facility in 2013 and completing both facilities in 2015. When the facilities are complete, Edison will buy solar power from them, and First Solar will sell them to investors.

The facilities will expectedly be able to produce a total of up to 550 megawatts of photovoltaic electricity (roughly half the voltage of the average natural-gas-fueled power plant) and 1.2 billion kilowatt hours of energy each year. This would be enough to power as many as 170,000 homes, the LA Times reports.

Analysts believe the facilities will help California come closer to reaching its goal of deriving 20 percent of all electricity from renewable sources by 2010 (and possibly 33 percent by 2020). Barriers to achieving this goal include the prolonged 2013-and-later deadlines and strict regulations on directing energy to consumers.

Edison is a prime candidate for meeting the state’s energy goals. Last year, it delivered to customers more than 65 percent of the solar energy produced in the country. Edison already has one existing project with First Solar (a 550-megawatt project with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. in San Luis Obispo County). By 2013, in addition to the to-be-constructed First Solar plants, Edison will build seven solar farms (in Ivanpah, California), which could power nearly 845,000 homes with approximately 1,300 megawatts of solar power. By 2014, Edison will purchase two projects in Blythe and Ridgecrest, California (providing approximately 726 megawatts) from a German solar firm.

The to-be-constructed Edison projects could as much as $1.3 billion in revenue to First Solar. First Solar’s revenue has increased from $1.3 million in 2008 to $2.1 billion in 2009.

Sarah Harper is a professional writer based in San Francisco, California. Her interests include sustainability, government policy, and international politics. In her free time, Sarah enjoys toying with the idea of holistic health, overanalysis, and plotting world exploration.

5 responses

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  4. (corrected)

    Nice, 170,000 homes? That’s approximately 4x more home than the photovoltaic plant going up in Kittitas County Washington.

    If my guess is correct (just a estimate from the cost of the Washington plant) this plant should cost about $1,000,000,000 dollars?

    But, we do need to convert to solar and long term – it will pay off.

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