SC Edison Launches Largest Solar Panel Installation
Rosemaid, CA: Southern California Edison (SCE) has launched the nation’s largest solar cell installation, a project that will place 250 megawatts of advanced photovoltaic generating technology on 65 million square feet of roofs of Southern California commercial buildings – enough power to serve approximately 162,000 homes.
“These are the kinds of big ideas we need to meet California’s long-term energy and climate change goals,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “I urge others to follow in their footsteps. If commercial buildings statewide partnered with utilities to put this solar technology on their rooftops, it would set off a huge wave of renewable energy growth.”
“This project will turn two square miles of unused commercial rooftops into advanced solar generating stations,” said John E. Bryson, Edison International chairman and CEO. “We hope to have the first solar rooftops in service by August. The sunlight power will be available to meet our largest challenge – peak load demands on the hottest days.”
SCE’s renewable energy project was prompted by recent advances in solar technology that reduce the cost of installed photovoltaic generation. When combined with the size of SCE’s investment, the resulting costs per unit are projected to be half that of common photovoltaic installations in California.
“The scale of this project is unprecedented,” said Mike Peevey, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president. “It clearly illustrates once again Edison’s leadership position in the development of new renewable technology.”
SCE has asked the CPUC for approval to install the solar cell technology during the next five years. The request estimates the total project cost will be $875 million (in today’s dollars).
The utility plans to begin installation work immediately on commercial roofs in Southern California’s Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the nation’s fastest growing urban region. “These new solar stations, which we will be installing at a rate of one megawatt a week, will provide a new source of clean energy, directly in the fast-growing regions where we need it most,” said Bryson.
SCE sees numerous customer benefits from its new solar program, among them locating the new generation in areas of growing customer demand. And the clusters of solar modules SCE plans to install will be connected directly to the nearest neighborhood circuit, eliminating the need to build new transmission lines to bring the power to customers. Additionally, solar units produce the most power when customer usage is at its highest.
SCE believes its commercial solar roofs program will boost several California environmental initiatives, especially the Million Solar Roofs program that provides incentives to encourage Californians to install solar projects by 2017. SCE’s solar program supports the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act requiring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as well as California’s renewable portfolio standard requiring that 20 percent of the state’s electricity be generated with renewable energy by 2010.
How It Works
Solar cells are made of materials that convert sunlight directly into electricity through a chemical process.
- A thin semiconductor wafer is treated to form an electric field – positive on one side and negative on the other side.
- When light strikes the cell, electrons are knocked loose from the atoms of the material creating the current.
- Wires are attached to the positive and negative sides to carry the electricity from the cell to the device to be powered.
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is the largest electric utility in California, serving a population of more than 13 million via 4.8 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within central, coastal and Southern California.