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Solar & Alternative Energy

US energy utilities embrace solar power

Several regional energy utilities in the United States have recently announced programs to take advantage of solar power and the solar investment tax credit.

CalRENEW-1, the first utility-scale photovoltaic solar farm to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission under the state's Renewables Portfolio Standard program, has received all required environmental approvals and is now shovel ready, according to Bill Barnes, chief executive officer of Cleantech America, Inc., the project developer. The solar farm, which could begin generating zero-emission, renewable power as early as the end of 2009 and no later than April 30, 2010, will deliver 5 MW of electricity annually to PG&E under a long-term power purchase agreement. (More)

Green Mountain Energy Company launched its Renewable Rewards Buy-Back program for Texas residents May 11. The program offers credit to Texas customers who install solar arrays or other renewable generation facilities at their homes for any excess energy that their qualifying facility sends to the electricity grid. Green Mountain believes it is the first and only electricity provider in the Texas competitive market to offer this kind of buy-back program. (More information)

The Solar Electric Power Association has commended Duke Energy for reaching an agreement with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to move forward on the proposed $50 million utility-owned distributed photovoltaic (PV) program, the first of its kind in the southeastern United States. Under the agreement for the distributed solar power plant, Duke Energy will commission up to 10 MW of roof- and ground-mounted PV systems located on utility property, businesses, and homes, leasing customer roof space with the PV systems sending all of the electricity back into the electric grid. The customer's electric bill will remain unchanged but they will receive economic compensation from the lease. (More)