Utility SCE to deploy solar, storage and efficiency to meet electricity needs

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Southern California Edison (SCE) has announced contracts for 2.2 GW of electric capacity from a variety of sources as part of its plan to meet reliability needs in its service territory. This includes six contracts with SunPower to supply a total of 50 MW of distributed PV in the West LA Basin and Moorpark areas.

Natural gas makes up the largest portion of the contracts with 1.7 GW contracted from three facilities, including two “peaking” plants. However, energy efficiency, demand response and battery and thermal energy storage both on the grid and behind-the-meter make up the remainder.

”This is an example of a utility utilizing the full suite of non-fossil tools available to solve for grid-reliability concerns,” Vote Solar Executive Director Adam Browning told pv magazine. “Demand response, targeted distributed generation, energy efficiency, storage — it’s all in there.”

Browning notes that the contracts for 260 MW of energy storage represent more than five times what SCE was required to purchase. “Nobody quintuples the order of something they don’t like,” notes Browning. “That’s a great leading indicator of the cost and performance of storage.”

This is important for the solar industry as the integration of more energy storage will allow higher penetrations of solar while still meeting peak demand after sunset. This is particularly an issue in California.

In addition to these contracts, in October SCE submitted contracts for 857 MW of solar PV to state regulators for approval, and has since submitted the results of its solicitation for another 280 MW of solar PV under the Renewable Auction Mechanism.

SCE reports that renewable sources supplied 22% of the electricity SCE provided to its customers in 2013, and Vote Solar says that with these contracts it is on track to meet its 33% requirement by 2020 under California’s renewable energy mandate.