Seven new solar power plants capable of providing electricity for 8,125 average homes are now online for Southern California Edison (SCE) customers.

The newest solar photovoltaic installations, located in Ontario and Redlands, California, have a combined peak generating capacity of 12.5 million watts (AC). The new plants bring to 10 the number of SCE neighborhood solar stations.

Construction of the solar power plants last year created 250 temporary jobs. SCE estimates its entire solar photovoltaic project – 75 to 100 roof- and ground-mount installations – will create up to 1,200 such jobs.

“When Southern California Edison originally announced its goal of building a network of local solar plants, we wanted to help speed up California’s deployment of solar generation while driving down the cost of photovoltaic panels for everyone,” said Mark Nelson, SCE director of generation planning and strategy.

“Current market indicators reveal that solar photovoltaic power is now substantially less expensive for our customers than when we launched this project,” Nelson said.

Details of SCE’s new solar stations

The Ontario installations involved four solar stations on 1.8 million square feet of leased warehouse roofs owned by ProLogis. The 32,950 solar photovoltaic panels SCE has installed in Ontario are capable of generating 5.5 million watts (AC) of power.

“Ontario is proud to partner with Southern California Edison to provide renewable energy resources to our residents and businesses,” said Ontario Mayor Paul S. Leon. “Through this exciting new solar program, we are not only creating jobs for our community, but we are ensuring that sustainability is a key component of our long-term vision.”

“We are excited to continue our work with SCE and bring these additional rooftop installations into production,” said Drew Torbin, ProLogis vice president of renewable energy. “Our partnership makes sense in many ways; by bringing together a large rooftop owner and a utility, we have achieved the speed and scale that was necessary to make a true impact on the rooftop solar industry.”

In Redlands SCE has built three installations, with 34,600 panels spread over 1.5 million square feet of ProLogis warehouse roofs. The panels can generate 7 million watts (AC) of power.

“Two of our highest goals as a city are to encourage job creation and to build a greener tomorrow for our residents and future generations,” said Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar. “Southern California Edison’s solar project has supported both goals by making available 120 construction jobs and adding to our energy resources three power plants that are silent, emission-free and use a renewable fuel source.”

At the direction of the state utilities commission, SCE expanded its solar photovoltaic program by offering long-term power purchase agreements to independent producers willing to build neighborhood plants. So far, the utility has awarded 29 contracts, which will yield about 43 million watts (AC) of new solar photovoltaic power for SCE customers.

In addition, SCE has seen an increase in the number of cost-effective solar photovoltaic energy bids to provide renewable energy to the utility. The winning bids show a significant reduction in the cost of solar photovoltaic. In November, SCE signed 20 such purchase agreements with the potential to produce 239 million watts (AC) of power.

SCE’s neighborhood solar stations can be brought online quickly once the distribution circuits they are being connected to are prepared to handle the new generator output and voltage controls.

One of SCE’s objectives is to study the impact on local grid reliability, so that these distributed energy resources can be interconnected safely. Lessons learned during deployment of SCE’s solar photovoltaic project will be shared with other utilities and the solar industry to foster similar efforts.