California electric grid sets solar generation record

March 10 Mon Mar 10, 2014 7:15pm EDT

March 10 (Reuters) - California set back-to-back solar power records last week, the state grid operator said on Monday.

The amount of electricity produced from carbon-free solar facilities connected to the grid reached 4,093 megawatts on Saturday, surpassing the day-earlier record of 3,926 MW, the California Independent System Operator (ISO) said in a statement.

With 5,231 MW, California leads the nation in installed solar generation, including thermal and photovoltaic facilities, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Power generated from solar has more than doubled from June 2012 when the ISO recorded 2,071 MW of peak production, the ISO said.

"This shows that California is making remarkable progress in not only getting new resources approved and connected to the grid, but making meaningful contributions in keeping the lights on as well," Steve Berberich, president the California ISO, said in a statement.

Electricity was being produced by 78 percent of the state's installed solar capacity Saturday, well above the 20 percent of nameplate electric capacity solar plants typically produce on an annual basis, according to the Electric Power Research Institute.

The record solar generation accounted for about 18 percent of the state's 22,700-MW demand on Saturday, the ISO said, with the ability to supply about 3 million homes.

"The milestones illustrate that we are well into a new era when clean, renewable energy is shouldering its share of our electricity needs," Berberich said.

California also has about 5,890 MW of wind generation, second only to Texas which has 11,213 MW in commercial operation.

California's wind, solar and geothermal resources make up about 15,000 MW of the state's generation mix. California's wind production record stands at 4,302 MW, set June 23, 2013.

Companies active in solar development in California include NRG Energy Inc, First Solar Inc, NextEra Energy Inc and AES Corp.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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