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Solar survey reflects US energy transition

California still tops the lists with PG&E number one in solar and SCE in storage

The survey revealed a range of strong models for innovation and a smarter future
The survey revealed a range of strong models for innovation and a smarter future

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) in the US has announced its annual Top 10 lists recognising the utilities that added the most new solar and storage to the grid in 2017.


Compiled as part of SEPA’s 11th annual Utility Market Survey, the lists include the top utilities in four categories: new solar megawatts and watts per customer, and new storage megawatts and watts per customer.


On the solar megawatts list, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) regained the number one spot this year with 831.3 megawatts (MW), while Southern California Edison (SCE), last year’s number one, was second with 547.1 MW. The small town of Madison, Maine took the top spot on the watts per customer list, with 1,819.6 watts per customer (W/C).


On the Utility Storage Top 10, SCE ranked number one on new megawatts, with 56.2 MW, while the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC) was number one in new storage watts per customer, with 415.3 W/C.


“Despite a small dip in the general solar market, we are seeing new regional and state markets making gains across the country and across all types and sizes of utilities,” said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA.


“Beyond their impressive numbers, this year’s winners embody a range of strong models for innovation and leadership that our industry will be able to build on as we move toward a clean, smart and resilient energy future.”


This year’s Utility Solar Top 10 lists are based on data provided by 423 utilities, representing around 114 million customers across the United States. The Storage Top 10 lists draw on data from 169 utilities, representing 70.7 million customers.


Other key findings from the survey included:

  • While California utilities took the top two spots on the solar MW list, the rest of the top 10 in this category show the ongoing growth of strong regional markets. Rounding out the top five are Xcel Minnesota (3), Duke Energy Progress in North and South Carolina (4) and Xcel Colorado (5)
  • Nine of the top 10 utilities on the solar watts per customer list are small municipals or electric cooperatives, underlining the spread of solar in rural communities. Joining Madison on the list are Anza Electric Cooperative in California (3), Clarksville Light and Water in Arkansas (4), and Pickwick Electric Cooperative in Tennessee (5)
  • By contrast, the top 10 lists for storage — both megawatts and watts per customer — show growth still centered in the Southwest and Hawaiian markets, which have high levels of solar. Several utilities in these regions appear on both storage lists, including SCE, KIUC, Tucson Electric Power and San Diego Gas & Electric.

“The 2018 Utility Survey results reflect a pivotal moment in the US energy transition,” Hamm said. “As utilities increasingly focus on solar and storage as distributed resources providing value to customers and the grid.”


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