The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has authorized a five-year solar photovoltaic program to develop up to 500 MW of solar PV facilities in the range of 1 MW to 20 MW in Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s (PG&E) service area.
The PV program allows for development of solar facilities owned by both PG&E and third parties. Under the utility-owned portion of the PV program, PG&E is authorized to install up to 250 MW of PV facilities from 1 MW to 20 MW in size in its service area at a rate of 50 MW per year.
Similarly, under the third-party-owned portion of the program, PG&E can solicit energy from 250 MW of PV facilities from 1 MW to 20 MW in size located in its service area, also at a rate of 50 MW a year.
The CPUC authorized expenditures of up to $1.454 billion for the capital costs associated with the utility-owned portion of the PV program. If PG&E develops less than 250 MW over the five-year duration of the PV program, this amount will be adjusted based on how much capacity PG&E does develop.
Pricing for the third-party owned PV portion will be based on competitive solicitations, with the successful bidders entering into a 20-year power purchase agreement with PG&E. Similarly, for utility-owned projects, PG&E will conduct competitive solicitations for turnkey and engineering, procurement and construction projects that the utility will then own and operate.
To ensure the best price possible for ratepayers for projects developed by PG&E and those developed by independent power producers, PG&E must enlist the services of an independent evaluator to assess the fairness and robustness of its solicitations, CPUC notes. Additionally, this decision authorizes PG&E to recover the costs of a 2 MW pilot project the utility built to demonstrate the viability of this program. This facility is online and operating in Vacaville, Calif.