California, New Jersey still lead nation in solar contributions

Two public power utilities made an industry-generated ranking for 2011, driven by large projects.

California's Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) remains the largest solar-generating utility in the United States, but New Jersey's Public Service Gas & Electric (PSE&G) provides the most solar power per customer, according to a new ranking by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

The 2011 Utility Solar Rankings report showed that utilities across the United States connected approximately 62,000 photovoltaic systems into the grid during 2011, adding about 1,500 megawatts of new solar generation capacity. This represents the fourth straight year of increases, the SEPA analysis shows.

Approximately 40 percent of that capacity was from projects undertaken by the utilities themselves, compared with about 60 percent attributable to residential or commercial installations.

Here are the top 10 utilities in terms of annual solar megawatts produced. All three of the New Jersey utilities listed logged increases from 2010 and 2011; the two utilities at the bottom of the list leapt up substantially in the rankings.

  1. PG&E (287.7 megawatts installed)
  2. PG&E (181.3 megawatts)
  3. Arizona Public Services (144 megawatts)
  4. Southern California Edison (138 megawatts)
  5. Atlantic City Electric (61.2 megawatts)
  6. Jersey Central Power & Light (53 megawatts)
  7. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (52.8 megawatts)
  8. Xcel Energy - CO (51.3 megawatts)
  9. Long Island Power Authority (46.9 megawatts)
  10. Xcel Energy - NM (45.6 megawatts)

SEPA reported that the minimum amount of solar capacity in order to be listed on the ranking rose from 20 megawatts in 2010 to 45 megawatts in 2011.