SEPA Announces 2010 Solar Business Achievement Award Winners

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The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) today announced the results of the 2010 SEPA Solar Business Achievement Awards.

In order to realize the great potential for growth in solar power, utilities and solar companies will need to collaborate more than ever before.

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) today announced the results of the 2010 SEPA Solar Business Achievement Awards. The SEPA Board of Directors and staff are proud to recognize these utilities and solar companies who are responding to the challenges of the solar marketplace with action and innovation. Winners were selected in six categories based upon their demonstration of clear vision and imaginative business strategies.

The winners in all categories were recognized last week during SEPA’s Annual Membership Meeting at Solar Power International.

“In order to realize the great potential for growth in solar power, utilities and solar companies will need to collaborate more than ever before,” said SEPA President and CEO, Julia Hamm. “Peter Darbee, our 2010 Utility CEO of the Year, embodies that collaboration better than anyone.

“With his leadership, and the leadership of his fellow award winners, solar power can be a source of not only clean energy, but also jobs, economic growth and innovation for decades to come.”

Winners of the 2010 SEPA Solar Business Achievement Awards are:

  •     Utility CEO of the Year: Peter A. Darbee, PG&E Corporation

Peter Darbee, long recognized as a leader on climate change and renewable issues, is SEPA’s 2010 Utility CEO of the Year. Under his guidance, PG&E Corporation and its regulated utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, have shown their commitment to solar energy, both on utility-scale and distributed projects. PG&E is working collaboratively to pursue new sources of renewable energy and to focus on sustainable ways to produce, deliver and use energy.

  •     Utility Innovation in Solar Program Design: Arizona Public Service

Arizona Public Service (APS) has embarked on a new solar pilot program called the Community Power Project – Flagstaff Pilot. Through the Community Power Project, APS will own and install 1.5 megawatts of distributed solar energy that will be installed on a single electric feeder in Flagstaff, Arizona. The project will produce approximately 2,350 megawatt hours of energy annually. This program is designed to study the effects of high penetration of distributed energy on a single feeder. Residential and commercial customers will host APS-owned and maintained rooftop mounted photovoltaic systems, with no upfront cost, and in exchange they will receive a fixed energy price for 20 years. Significant change across multiple lines of business was necessary to integrate and implement the Community Power Project into the utility business model.

  •     Utility Solar Portfolio Leadership : Pacific Gas and Electric Company

PG&E has long been a leader in advancing solar technologies, both in terms of large-scale solar power plants and small-scale distributed, customer-owned solar PV systems. PG&E has been a consistent role model for solar deployment in the industry and in 2010 displayed leadership in their innovative approach in implementing multiple business model structures.

As of July 2010, PG&E has signed 33 contracts for utility-scale solar power, both solar PV and solar thermal projects, totaling 4,841 MW. PG&E’s solar PPAs are significant both in their scale and in their execution. By signing these PPAs, PG&E has helped enable the growth of nine start-up solar companies.

In addition, over the next five years, PG&E will be rolling out a new Solar PV Program that will use an innovative hybrid development model to install 500 MW of solar PV in its service territory. PG&E will build up to 250 MW of utility-owned generation and contract with independent developers to build up to an additional 250 MW using power purchase agreements. The first utility-owned project under the program, known as the Vaca-Dixon Solar Station, came on line in December 2009.

  •     Utility Community Outreach and Public Awareness: Arizona Public Service

To prepare for a sustainable energy future, APS is investing not only in renewable energy technologies, but also in a communications effort to educate and inform Arizona young people and families about the benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Tackling this task the right way required an effort that was interesting, informative and even a little “heroic.” With this in mind, APS developed “The Renewables – The World’s Most Sustainable Superheroes.” Boasting the renewable energy powers of Solar Man, Wind Woman, Guyzer (geothermal energy), Bio (biomass) and Tank (hydro), the Renewables have banded together to stop the evil Watt Waster, and power the bustling city of Solarville with renewable energy. They are also helping APS engage its customers, employees, and the general public in a widespread effort to support investment in clean energy. With the team and concept formed, APS is now busy promoting The Renewables across the state. The company is distributing Renewables-branded materials such as posters, book bags, t-shirts, comic books, trading cards and more. The superhero team regularly represents APS (in live and inflatable forms) at sporting events featuring Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks and Arizona State Sun Devils; at the Arizona Science Center’s “Solarville” exhibit; and at company-sponsored community events. APS has even developed an exciting 4th and 6th grade curriculum featuring The Renewables – titled “Mission: Sustainability” – to help students understand global and local sustainability issues, and how they can make a difference for our planet. Like other energy companies across the nation, APS is working hard to balance the growing electricity demands of its customers and the state of Arizona with the need to invest in cleaner power solutions. Fortunately, APS and Arizona have the world’s most sustainable superheroes, The Renewables, in their corner!

  •     Solar Partner of the Year: Tessera Solar

Salt River Project (SRP) is proud to partner with Tessera Solar at Maricopa Solar, the nation’s first commercial project utilizing Stirling Energy Systems’ SunCatcher™ technology. The SunCatcher™ system consists of a solar concentrator in a dish structure that supports an array of curved glass mirror facets, which collect and concentrate solar energy onto a power conversion unit. The power conversion unit acts as an external heat exchanger to heat and pressurize the internal working fluid, which in turn powers the Stirling Engine. In addition to being able to convert thermal solar power into grid-quality electricity, it also uses only a small fraction of water as compared to other solar technologies, which is important in the dry, desert climates of the southwest. SRP buys the energy output, as well as the renewable energy credits, from the 60 SunCatcher™ dishes located at Maricopa Solar, which is adjacent to SRP’s Agua Fria Generating Station in Peoria, Arizona. The facility is able to generate about 1.5 megawatts of electricity – enough to power about 200 homes. Maricopa Solar became operational in December 2009.

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) is an educational non-profit organization dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios. With more than 750 utility and solar industry members, SEPA provides unbiased utility solar market intelligence, up-to-date information about technologies and business models, and peer-to-peer interaction. From hosting national events to one-on-one counseling, SEPA helps utilities make smart solar decisions. For more information, visit


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