Solar features prominently in PG&E renewable power bids

Solar power projects and solar thermal power plants feature prominently in the list of bids received by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) under its 2008 renewable energy solicitation.

Peter Darbee, chairman and chief executive of PG&E Corp. and president and CEO of its utility subsidiary, said the company has seen more bids for solar projects than it has seen historically. However, further details weren't disclosed.

Renewable energy resources presently provide approximately 32 percent of PG&E's total electric portfolio, including 12 percent from resources eligible under California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Programme. PG&E is seeking new contracts with generators to increase the level of RPS-eligible renewable generation to 20 percent by 2010-2012.

In this 2008 Renewables RFO, PG&E is seeking offers from sellers pursuant to which PG&E would enter into agreements to purchase energy and capacity from Eligible Renewable Resources (ERR) meeting PG&E's resource needs and California's RPS programme for the years 2008 and beyond.

Earlier this year, Pacific Gas and Electric Company had entered into a series of contracts with BrightSource Energy, Inc. for renewable solar power. The first three contracts are for a total of 500 megawatts (MW) of power to be supplied from three solar thermal electric generating projects. PG&E also signed two contracts for options on an additional 400 MW of solar power, which would bring the total amount of power purchased under these five agreements to 900 MW.

The first of these solar power plants, sized at 100 MW in Ivanpah, California, could be operating as early as 2011 and is expected to produce 246,000 megawatt hours of renewable electricity per year.