California to build largest solar project in U.S.

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By GordanaV

California’s state government on Thursday approved a plan to build the largest solar project in the nation. 

Under the plan, the public electricity utility Edison will construct the country’s largest collection of solar panels by placing them on the otherwise-unused rooftops of commercial buildings. 

The project will involve the installation of solar panels at 150 sites across Southern California over the next five years. Those sites are expected to generate a total of about 250 megawatts of power, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. 

Edison will also contract with independent solar providers who will install solar arrays to generate an additional 250 megawatts. 

With a megawatt of power considered sufficient to meet the needs of 650 average Southern California homes, the fully operational solar panels could eventually generate enough power for 325,000 homes, according to Edison spokesman Gil Alexander. 

The first of the Edison solar arrays is already operating on the roof of a warehouse in Fontana, east of Los Angeles. Panels are also being installed on top of another business in Chino, east of Los Angeles. 

Alexander said future locations will be determined based on growing electrical demand. 

He said the project will make positive use of otherwise unused urban space. 

According to Edison, the project will create as many as 800 jobs. 

“The program will create hundreds of neighborhood solar power plants, strengthen local grid reliability and produce hundreds of new green jobs to bolster Southern California’s economic recovery,” said Theodore F. Craver Jr., chairman and CEO of Edison International. 

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the approval of the solar program, saying that “this is a great step toward our vision of one day seeing solar panels on millions of rooftops across the Golden State.” 

“In order to meet California’s long-term renewable energy and climate change goals, we need a mix of renewable sources and projects of all sizes — all of which are under way — spurring innovation and green jobs in our state.”