Top 10 Utilities Reported Adding More Than 1,000 MW of Solar Capacity
Today, SEPA released the findings of 2011 Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings survey. According to the findings, utilities interconnected more than 62,000 PV systems of all sizes in 2011. These new systems resulted in almost 1,500 megawatts of new utility solar capacity, more than twice as much as was added in 2010, which itself had been a record year. Both the number of systems and the percentage of growth make solar electricity the fastest growing electric source in the U.S. in 2011.
Much of this dramatic growth took place not just in the Southwest, traditionally the leader in solar power, but also in eastern states, and it took place on the systems of municipal utilities and rural electric cooperatives, as well as investor-owned utilities.
Altogether, the Top 10 utilities reported adding more than 1,000 megawatts of solar electricity capacity in 2011. Overall, more than 240 utilities surveyed reported nearly 1,500 megawatts of new solar, equivalent to about six natural gas power plants.
For the fourth straight year, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), in northern California, led all utilities in the most new solar energy added to its grid with 288 megawatts. A New Jersey utility, Public Service Electric & Gas Co., secured the No. 2 spot with 181 megawatts in 2011. It took at least 45 megawatts to make the Top 10 list in 2011, more than double the minimum amount needed the previous year. Other highlights from the survey:
Four East Coast utilities earned spots in the Top 10 for new solar energy added, showing that solar power is spreading far beyond its original concentration in the southwestern part of the U.S.
In 2011, public power utilities returned to the Top 10 after none made it in 2010, with Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) ranking Nos. 7 and 9 respectively.
For the first time, a New Mexico utility made the Top 10 list, with Southwestern Public Service (Xcel Energy-NM) jumping from the No. 56 spot in 2010 to No. 10 in 2011.
On a watts-per-customer basis, Vineland Municipal Electric Utility (NJ) took the top spot. A newcomer to the Top 10 list, the New Jersey municipal utility ranked first nationally with an unprecedented 769 watts-per-customer after integrating approximately 19 megawatts of PV for their nearly 25,000 customers. Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation (GA) and Fayetteville Public Utilities (TN) jumped up the list, ranking Nos. 2 and 3 respectively. Blue Ridge Mountain EMC is the sole rural electric cooperative utility in either of this year’s Top 10 lists.