Policy and financing mechanisms have played a large part in encouraging the growth of the U.S. solar market, which more than doubled in 2011 and is on pace to beat industry expectations again in 2012, adding an estimated 3.3 GW of new capacity, according to EuPD Research.
While these figures aren’t surprising – more and more of our customers rely on-site solar to better manage their energy costs – policy and financing mechanisms are only part the story. The other half is the commitment of public and private organizations alike in supporting its development.
Our solar customer Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is a great example. The nation’s sixth largest publicly owned utility, SMUD is recognized in the industry for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and sustainable solutions. It holds the distinction of the nation’s first utility-scale solar array at Rancho Seco County Park in 1984. And this past June, the utility announced a pilot program to determine how battery storage can help provide extra capacity during times of peak demand, such as the hottest hours during the summer.
Thanks to SMUD’s feed-in tariff (FIT) program, an additional 100-megawatts of solar has been developed or is underway in California. SMUD introduced the program in 2010 to offer standard rates and contract terms for renewable power generators.
Constellation completed an aggregate 30-megawatt DC (25-megawatt AC) solar generation project for SMUD’s FIT program last December. Located at four sites in Elk Grove and Galt, California, SMUD purchases the electricity generated by the solar panels through 20-year power purchase agreements with Constellation.
As the owner of this project, Constellation is proud to help SMUD meet its renewable energy goals and provide a long-term source of clean and emissions-free electricity to its more than half a million customers.