Now that Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has provided us with an updated look at how the solar power industry is faring in the U.S., we thought we’d take a look at utility companies across the nation that are using solar generated power to see how they stack up against each other. Thanks to an interactive map and report on utility rankings from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), we can see which states are using the most solar electricity and which utilities have the most solar electricity customers per watt.
As we glance at the report, what strikes us first is the fact that more growth in new solar electricity generation and usage came from outside the typically strong solar regions of California and the Southwest U.S. than ever before. SEPA reports that around 63% of the nation’s new solar capacity came from outside California, the largest percentage on record. 7 of the top 10 solar utilities in the U.S. (in terms of megawatts) are located outside of California and, in fact, 4 of those top 10 are found on the east side of the country including #2 ranked Florida Power and Light (FL), #3 Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ), #9 Jersey Central Power & Light (NJ) and #10 Duke Energy Carolinas (NC). However, the #1 spot still belongs to Pacific Gas & Electric in California.
The report also ranks utilities according to the number of watts of solar power used by their customers. Again, three of the top 10 in terms of customer consumption are on the east side, including #2 Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ), #7 Jacksonville Electric Authority (FL) and Atlantic City Electric Co. (NJ). With such heavy representation in both top 10 lists, it is no wonder that New Jersey remains California’s toughest competitor when it comes to solar rankings. What is perhaps surprising is that the number 3 ranking utility in terms of solar consumption per watt belongs to Hawaiian Electric Company in, you guessed it, Hawaii.
Other notable factoids from SEPA’s report include the fact that utility ownership of solar power generation is up 300% over 2009, handily overtaking customer-owned PV installations in terms of new capacity. This appears to be due to the fact that many centralized solar power plants have been recently commissioned, including the mammoth 48 megawatt Copper Mountain Solar project and the 30 megawatt Cimarron project in New Mexico. SEPA says centralized projects totaled 226 megawatts in 2010, up from just 46 megawatts in 2009.