Southern California Edison (SCE), Rosemead, California, U.S., will purchase renewable solar power for its customers from what will be the world’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) central station. The agreement with TrueSolar Solutions, LLC was approved last week by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

SCE has contracted to buy 5 MW of solar power from the plant to be built on a 40-acre site located in the vicinity of Barstow, California, by TrueSolar Solutions. TrueSolar will work with Global Solar Energy to build the project.

“When completed, the TrueSolar project will provide our customers with the lowest-cost wholesale electric energy available from photovoltaics,” said Lars Bergmann, SCE’s director of qualifying facilities contracts. “SCE’s support of emerging solar technologies is part of our long-standing commitment to renewable energy resources that offer California important environmental and economic benefits.“

The power generated from 20 250-kW PV arrays at the station will flow into the utility’s power grid and benefit all SCE customers. Construction on the plant is expected to begin in early 2004, with commercial operation planned by year’s end. Annual energy production is expected to be approximately 11 million kWh.

“Our contract with TrueSolar is a tremendous advance in the commercialization of PV power," said Bergmann. "Until now, this particular renewable energy technology has been used in small, limited applications such as individual customer rooftops. For the first time in California this project will elevate the limited use of rooftop PV energy to the same category as traditional forms of bulk power generation.”

On Aug. 29, 2003, SCE announced that, for the first time, renewable energy sources represented as much as 23% of its total monthly summer power sales, strengthening SCE’s position as the leading U.S. purchaser of electricity produced with alternate sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal energy as well as power from small hydroelectric facilities.