Southern California Edison and First Solar have announced agreements to build two large-scale solar power projects in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in Southern California. The installations, which will be among the largest of their kind, will have a generation capacity of 550 MW of photovoltaic solar electricity, enough to provide power to approximately 170,000 homes. The agreements are subject to approval by the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Southern California Edison is always looking for innovative ways to deliver clean power from renewable sources. First Solar is an excellent partner in helping us achieve our goals,” said Stuart Hemphill, SCE senior vice president, Power Procurement. “This agreement is good for our customers, for the industry and for the environment.”

First Solar will engineer, procure and construct the two solar facilities, using thin-film photovoltaic solar modules. The projects are the 250 MW Desert Sunlight project near Desert Center, Calif., and the 300 MW Stateline project in northeastern San Bernardino County. Pending network upgrades and receipt of applicable governmental permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2012 for Desert Sunlight and 2013 for Stateline. Both projects are expected to be completed in 2015. Several hundred construction jobs are expected to be created at each site. When completed, the solar projects will produce 1.2 billion kilowatt-hours of clean energy per year.

California currently has a goal of delivering 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2010 and is considering legislation to increase the goal to 33 percent by 2020. SCE is the nation’s leading purchaser of renewable energy and, in 2008, delivered 12.6 billion kilowatt-hours of energy to its customers from renewable resources – about 16 percent of its total energy portfolio. In addition, the utility delivered more than 65 percent of the solar energy produced in the United States for its customers in 2008.