Utilities taking the lead in solar's growth


By: SGN Staff


Utilities more than doubled their solar output in 2011, resulting in almost 1,500 megawatts of new installed capacity, says a new report from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).


Last year U.S. utilities interconnected more than 62,000 photovoltaic systems in a variety of sizes to reach that capacity, which is more than double what was achieved in 2010 (which was a record year at the time).


"In addition to the photovoltaic systems added by customers and third party producers, much of the growth has come from the direct actions of utilities," said Julia Hamm, SEPA president and CEO. A total of 39% of the new solar capacity came from utilities that own or contract for solar power. Large projects of more than 10 megawatts each were responsible for most of that capacity. "This is a market shift from a few years ago, when customer-owned, net-metered systems dominated installed solar generation, Hamm added."