PG&E Expands Solar Power Plans (May 15, 2009) — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and a BrightSource Energy of Oakland signed the world’s largest solar deal that will create a string of seven solar power plants generating enough electricity for 530,000 homes.

solar-power-plansCalifornia law requires the state’s electrical utilities to get 20 percent of their power from renewable sources by the end of 2010, although they have three more years to comply if necessary.

BrightSource Energy will build the plants in the Southern California desert and sell the power to PG&E. The first plant could open in 2012 at the Ivanpah dry lake bed in San Bernardino County.

Although one megawatt can power about 750 homes, the output from solar plants varies with the seasons and the time of day. So PG&E estimates that BrightSource’s seven plants will be able to supply 530,000 homes.

Last year, PG&E agreed to buy as much as 900 megawatts from three solar power plants of BrightSource. The deal announced Wednesday greatly expands that agreement, with PG&E potentially buying 1,310 megawatts.

Earlier this year, the 5-year-old company signed an agreement to supply 1,300 megawatts of electricity to Southern California Edison in what was then considered the world’s largest solar deal. The new PG&E agreement just barely tops it

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