The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) marked the release of its 10th annual Utility Market Survey with the launch of two new Top 10 lists for utilities that put the most new storage on the grid in 2016. As with its annual Utility Solar Top 10 lists, the SEPA Storage Top 10 includes one list for utilities that added the most new megawatts (MW) of storage and one for utilities that added the most new watts per customer.
Imperial Irrigation District (IID), a public power and water utility in Southern California, took the No. 1 spot on the Storage Top 10 megawatt list, by adding 30 MW of new storage. The Sterling Municipal Light Department, the municipal utility for the small town of Sterling, Massachusetts, led the storage list for watts per customer, with 533 watts.
On the Utility Solar Top 10, Southern California Edison (SCE) ranked No. 1 on new megawatts, and the City of Palo Alto Utilities was No. 1 in new solar watts per customer. All Top 10 winners will be recognized on April 26 at SEPA’s Utility Conference in Tucson.
“One of the reasons we started the Utility Solar Top 10 lists back in 2007 was to highlight the key, but often unrecognized role utilities were taking in putting new solar on the grid,” said SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm. “With utility-scale solar now well established as a mainstream power source, we wanted to similarly recognize utilities’ leadership in realizing the full potential of storage to drive critical system changes that will benefit customers and the grid.”
This year’s Top 10 lists — both solar and storage — are based on data provided by 412 utilities, which together serve more than 90 million customers across the United States. The full lists in all categories are attached. Key takeaways include:
- Following SCE in the No. 1 spot, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) held the No. 2 ranking on this year’s Top 10 list for the most new megawatts of solar — the same spots the two California utilities had on the first Top 10 list in 2007. However, the number of megawatts each added has changed dramatically. SCE jumped from 409 MW in 2007 to 1,648 MW in 2016, while PG&E grew from 144.5 MW to 773 MW.
- The figures needed to make the Top 10 list for solar watts per customer have also shot up. The City of Palo Alto Utilities ranked No. 5 in 2007 with 20.4 watts per customer; this year, it earned the No. 1 spot with 2,753 watts.
- While California utilities continue to lead the nation in new megawatts of solar and storage, market growth in both sectors is spreading from west to east. On the 2017 lists, utilities in North Carolina and Georgia took four spots on the Top 10 for solar megawatts, while utilities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio took three spots on the Storage Top 10.
“SCE is proud to be ranked No. 1 and recognized as a solar leader among utilities for the second year in a row, and ranked No. 2 in storage capacity,” said Caroline Choi, SCE’s Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. “These rankings reflect our employees’ efforts to make the clean, renewable energy our customers want more accessible. We’re committed to modernizing our system to meet our customers’ needs and to help California meet critical climate and air quality targets.”
“It’s a pivotal time for the energy industry,” said Vicken Kasarjian, Energy Manager for IID. “With the increase of variable renewable energy and distributed generation on the grid, battery storage can provide operational flexibility while increasing system reliability. It’s exciting to see it come to life in the Imperial Valley, with IID leading the way.”
For the complete 2017 Top 10 lists for solar and energy storage visit sepatop10.org. In addition to data on solar and storage, the SEPA Utility Market Survey this year also collected information on demand response and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Journalists can access full solar data from the survey for free on SEPA’s Utility Solar Database.
SEPA will also release more data from the survey and a series of Market Snapshot reports in the coming months, providing a more in-depth analysis of market trends from the survey.
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