California Utility Taps First Solar for Massive Solar Rooftop Project

Last Friday California approved a contract between utility Southern California Edison and thin-film solar maker First Solar to build a thin-film photovoltaic project in Blythe, Calif. (on the border of Arizona). But just this morning the thin-film-plus-utility duo has more news to share: So Cal Edison says it has tapped First Solar to build out the first 2 MW installation of its massive 250 MW solar rooftop project.

First Solar kicked off construction of that 2 MW on a rooftop in Fontana, Calif., on Monday; the company says the PV project will be hooked up to the grid as early as this coming September. In this morning’s news release, Governor Schwarzenegger says that the projects are proof of the state’s “clean tech boom that will bring companies and investment dollars to California while reducing the state’s carbon footprint.”

While First Solar will build this first section of the rooftop project, a variety of installers will likely get a chance to build out the remaining sections. (Given that, in all of 2007, First Solar installed just 300 megawatts, tackling the entire 250 MW might prove a bit tough.)

At the Intersolar conference this week, there’s been a heated debate over whether distributed generation using solar PV can compete with centralized solar thermal technology when it comes to providing utility-sized power. More on that later today from the show!


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