PG&E plans to produce up to 500 megawatts of new solar power over the next five years according to a plan announced by the California utility on Tuesday. The project will focus on northern and central California and by 2015 is expected to deliver more than 1,000 gigawatt hours of power each year, equal to the annual consumption of about 150,000 average homes, according to the company.
The proposal, which needs approval from the state Public Utilities Commission, calls for half of the new solar power to be generated by PG&E and the other half and to be built and owned by independent developers.
Rather than establishing a giant solar array in the desert and then having to transmit the energy huge distances before it can be used, this project takes a “solar infill” approach, which uses small or mid-sized installations located within PG&E’s service area to minimize the cost and delays of connecting them to the grid.
PG&E estimates that the project will meet 1.3 percent of the utility’s energy demand and will add $.32 to each PG&E customer’s monthly electricity bill.