Pacific Gas & Electric plans to bolster its green energy supplies with 500 MW of new photovoltaic power, half of which would come from transparent 20-year deals with renewable developers. \u201cThere will be little or no need for new transmission, accelerating the rate of interconnections,\u201d said Peter Darbee, PG&E president and CEO during a February 24 press conference announcing the proposal. The solar panel projects would be ground mounted, sized between 1 and 20 MW, and hook into the utility\u2019s existing distribution system. The plan delighted photovoltaic developers because the deals will be long-term, standard offer contracts with a baseline price of $246\/MWh. The power price would rise on hot afternoons. \u201cThis is a fabulous opportunity for infill projects that will lower peak demand,\u201d said Sue Kately, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. She added that the proposed contracts and public terms, which include a set, long-term price, act like \u201cfeed in\u201d tariffs. These tariffs offer a guaranteed, long-term public price, which provides requisite financial security to renewable developers. For several years, state regulators have approved secret power purchase agreements between investor-owned utilities and renewable project developers, which have required one on one negotiation. \u201cThis will add jobs in California,\u201d said Fong Wan, PG&E vice president of procurement. The PV deals would be pre-approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, and they would thereby \u201cstreamline regulatory review, avoid the need for negotiations,\u201d and allow a project to quickly launch, states PG&E\u2019s filing to the CPUC seeking approval for its 500 MW plan. The utility wants permission to recover $1.45 billion in rates to cover the planned 250 MW worth of utility-owned PV projects on or near its property. PG&E\u2019s interest in solar projects was spurred by the change in federal law last year that allows regulated utilities to reap the investment tax credit for solar power plants. That tax credit represents about 30 percent of the cost of a project, Darbee said. Katley applauded PG&E for seeking generators\u2019 input on their proposal seeking 250 MW from independent generators, instead of presenting them a done deal. The five-year mega solar build out would be initiated by an $11. 9 million, 2 MW pilot PV project mounted on the ground, not roof tops, said Tom Bottoroff, PG&E senior vice president of regulatory relations. It will be placed on or near a PG&E substation probably in the sunny Central Valley. PG&E seeks a 9.79 percent rate of return on the utility half of the plan. That includes an 8.79 percent return on the utility-owned PV projects, plus a 1 percent renewable adder. The rate increase would be folded into the utility\u2019s upcoming general rate case. It is predicted to increase average residential rates by about 32 cents a month. Under the five-year program, the utility would solicit 25 MW of solar units in 2010, 150 MW the next three years, and 75 MW in 2014.