PG&E and BrightSource of Oakland Strike Solar Power Deal

May 15, 2009 / No Comments

Pacific Gas & Electric on Wednesday announced it has gone into solar-power contracts with Oakland’s BrightSource Energy to produce a total of 1,310 megawatts of electricity. That’s enough to power 530,000 California homes during peak hours— 12 noon – 7pm.

brightsource energy PG&E and BrightSource of Oakland Strike Solar Power Deal

Solar farm by BrightSource Energy

Go California! Wait! Let me check my PG&E bill. Somebody has to pay for this.

The new agreement includes seven power plants. This is in addition to a deal the two companies struck in April 2008. In that deal 900 megawatts would come from solar thermal power.

BrightSource now has 2,610 megawatts under contract. The new PG&E contract is the largest. BrightSource folk say their output represents more than 40 percent of all large-scale solar thermal contracts in the United States.

“The solar thermal projects announced today exemplify PG&E’s commitment to increasing the amount of renewable energy we provide to our customers throughout Northern and central California,” senior vice president of energy supply for PG&E, said in a statement. “Through these agreements with BrightSource, we can harness the sun’s energy to meet our customers’ power requirements when they need it most — during hot summer days.”

CEO of BrightSource Energy, said the additional contracts came about after BrightSource showed off its technology in Israel with results that were “at or above all the specifications.”

“It proved to them that our technology works. They saw us executing and delivering” efficient solar energy production.

Gov. Schwarzenegger terminated in “more evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay and sunshine will eventually power hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across our golden state.”

Construction costs for BrightSource will be at least $3 billion and the facilities will be located in the southwestern deserts of California, Nevada and Arizona. The first plant, a 110-megawatt facility at Ivanpah in eastern San Bernardino County will begin operation by 2012.

What I want to know is who is going to pay for this? More specifically, how much will my PG&E bill be going up each month to fund this new venture?