PG&E to Announce Solar Investment?

solarthermalausraUpdated: The CEO of Northern California utility PG&E Peter Darbee, has been very vocal about his company’s desire to invest in and own solar projects, and suggested last month that the utility would “soon” do so. Is today the day he’ll give the word? At 11:30 a.m. (PST) PG&E is having a media event where it will discuss a “major solar energy investment announcement.” Update: Yep, PG&E announced it is investing in solar — for all of the details read here.

The press release says the reason for the media event is:

With many renewable power projects delayed, PG&E is committed to finding innovative new ways to add more clean energy to our power mix in order to protect the environment and meet our customers’ expectations.

Sounds like a solar investment plan to me. PG&E generates billions in taxable income and could provide much-needed funding for companies to get solar plants up and running. It’s significant because utilities don’t traditionally own solar power-generating systems, and the sagging economy has been forcing solar companies to delay construction of plants and cut staff. There’s another reason: insurance. A lot of the solar projects from which PG&E has agreed to buy power are being built by young startups, which by nature can be risky, unreliable, and prone to failure — particularly in these difficult economic times when capital is scarce. Now, will a company or project be named in the deal? We’ll keep you posted.

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