SEPA undertakes third annual solar fact finding mission for utilities

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While abroad, the delegation will meet with Japanese utilities, government officials, and solar companies, and will also tour commercial installations and research facilities. "Allowing U.S. utility decision makers to see first-hand how solar integration is providing tangible value in Japan will help these executives translate relevant examples into solar activity here in America," said SEPA president and CEO, Julia Hamm.

Gathering in Tokyo yesterday, the group will now travel throughout central Japan to learn about solar research initiatives taken by the Japanese government and its research bodies; investigate the structure and design of the country’s long-term policy framework for renewable energy; and develop working relationships with peer utilities from around the U.S. and Japan.

Past missions gave delegations insight and experience into different European solar markets. In 2008, the group traveled to Germany and spent a significant amount of time learning about the policy that has driven the solar market in that country. Spain was the destination for last year’s mission, where participants explored both photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal electric installations.

"This trip was an excellent opportunity to see first-hand many of the critical issues that solar faces in becoming a major part of our energy portfolio," said Steve Malnight from Pacific Gas & Electric of SEPA’s Mission to Spain. "It was a great opportunity to see these facilities first hand and talk to the key policy makers, and it was made even more valuable by the group of utility executives on the trip, each of whom brought different perspectives and experiences that added to the learning."

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