PG&E Builds Small Scale Solar Power Plants

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is snapping up renewable energy from giant solar projects to meet California’s renewable portfolio standard, which requires the utility to get a third of its power from clean sources by 2020. But that’s not PG&E’s only solar play; it’s also aiming to pick up 500 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity from smaller-sized projects, half of which it will build and half that will be built by independent developers.

Progress toward that goal was marked recently with the dedication of three PG&E-owned solar photovoltaic (PV) plants in Fresno County – the 15-MW Westside Solar Station, 20-MW Stroud Solar Station and 15-MW Five Points Solar Station (pictured below) – all of which are now feeding power to the grid.

Five Points Solar Station, Milender-White

image via Milender-White

PG&E said it is capping the size of the projects in this program at 20 MW because anything bigger than that can face regulatory, finance and construction delays (something we’ve certainly seen with large-scale projects). The three Fresno projects – “built using the skills of local union labor and diverse suppliers,” the company said, took an average of about six months to construct.

PG&E expects to build up to 50 MW of new solar capacity per year through 2014. Once completed, this PV program will produce enough power “to meet the needs of about 150,000 homes in PG&E’s Northern and Central California service area,” the company said.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.