Edison Signs Mega Solar Deal

By Published On: February 13, 2009

Southern California Edison signed 1,300 MW worth of solar power agreements with BrightSource Energy, the utility announced February 11. “These contracts represent a significant addition to our renewable portfolio,” stated Stuart Hemphill, Edison vice president of renewable energy. Alternative power supplies make up 15.7 percent of the utility’s power portfolio, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. Current law requires the state’s investor-owned utilities to reach the 20 percent renewable energy level by 2010, but that target won’t be met before 2013, according to testimony by utility and state energy representatives presented this week at a Senate Utilities & Commerce Committee hearing. Legislation seeks to raise the renewable mandate to 33 percent by 2010. Renewable energy makes up 11.4 percent of Pacific Gas & Electric supplies and 5.2 percent of San Diego Gas & Electric’s portfolio, according to the CPUC. The Edison-BrightSource agreements involve seven projects that are set to use thousands of small mirrors that reflect the sunlight onto a boiler to produce steam, which powers a turbine. The first project is a 100 MW system slated for Ivanpah in San Bernardino County, which is expected to come on line in 2013. The six other projects are predicted to be built in the same region on Bureau of Land Management acreage. The utility predicts they will be up and running by 2016. Keely Wachs, BrightSource spokesperson, said BLM would decide whether to approve the solar developer’s permit by early next year. Solar thermal units producing 1 MW cover six to eight acres, according to Wachs. Edison said it would seek California Public Utilities Commission approval within the next two months, according to Vanessa McGrady, Edison spokesperson. BrightSource also signed a large solar agreement with PG&E. Last April, the two signed an agreement for up to 900 MW of solar thermal power. The first of several PG&E projects is for 100 MW, which is supposed to come online in 2011. It also is expected to be built in Ivanpah, and expanded to a total 400 MW. Wachs said 100 MW of the project are to serve Edison.

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