Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said it plans to begin implementing a major new solar photovoltaic program, which the California Public Utilities Commission approved yesterday.

The program, once complete, will generate up to 500 MW of clean energy, enough to meet the needs of about 150,000 homes in PG&E's Northern and Central California service area.

PG&E's solar PV program is part of its larger effort to provide its customers with more clean energy. The five-year initiative will consist of up to 250 MW of utility-owned PV generation and another 250 MW provided by independent developers through a streamlined regulatory process.

The moderately sized projects targeted by PG&E's initiative, ranging from 1 MW to 20 MW, should require less time to plan and build than many large projects that have faced lengthy delays. Projects to be owned by PG&E will be located near company substations to reduce the costs and delays of interconnecting them to the power grid.