Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Clean Power

U.S. Utility Industry Gets Serious about Solar Energy

The Electric Power Research Institute has installed a photovoltaic research system on its roofThe Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) represents about 90% of the electricity generated in the U.S., so it was a significant move when this nonprofit research organization entered a partnership with the Solar Technology Acceleration Center in May.  Well, they certainly haven’t let any grass grow under their feet.  This week, EPRI announced that it will install a 187-kilowatt photovoltaic research system on a roof in its headquarters.  The project is scheduled to be completed within two months, and it will be the second largest in EPRI’s home city of Palo Alto, California.


An executive from SolarCity, the solar system installer, says that the company’s goal “is to make solar a more widely used source of U.S. electricity generation.”  The partnership with EPRI will go a long way to fulfilling that goal. Aside from offsetting a little over 10% of the institutes’s power usage, the installation will perform real-time data collection to help assess the impact of weather variations on a solar array, and to assess their effect on the distribution grid.  But wait, there’s more…

Utilities, Green Jobs and Renewable Energy

EPRI is also expanding its research into biotech, wind, and other renewables, spurred on by increasingly aggressive demand from the utility industry and by the potential for renewables to create new green jobs.  In addition to solar, utilities are pursuing wind energy, one recent example being a 240 megawatt wind power agreement by Consumers Energy in Michigan with independent wind energy developers.  The company also notes that the agreement will create new green jobs locally.  Puget Sound Energy in Washington State has a highly rated renewable energy program that includes buying energy sourced from anaerobic gas digesters located on dairy farms, which has the added benefit of helping dairy farmers convert their massive manure output into environmentally safe products.

Distributed Solar Power

The Consumers Power bulk agreement is just one way that utilities can take advantage of new opportunities in renewable energy.  Utility giant Duke Energy demonstrates another path, with its installation of small solar arrays spread among schools, businesses, and other facilities throughout its distribution grid. With or without rebates or buy-backs from utility companies, renewable energy is also starting to make more bottom line sense for businesses.  One recent example is Venida Packing, a California citrus fruit packing and storage company that saw its electricity bill evaporate after installing a 622 kilowatt solar array.  In addition to the direct financial benefit, the company also notes an image boost among “customers who appreciate their effort in maintaining ‘green’ practices.”  To add green icing on the solar cake, the array was installed on an efficiency-boosting tracking system designed and built in the U.S. by PV Trackers.

Image: Utility pole by gadl on

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


You May Also Like


A new organic flow battery is getting a test run at a gas power plant in Wisconsin.

Climate Change

Researchers are designing electric grid infrastructure that fails in a controlled way so it can be repaired more quickly.

Clean Power

Funding Creates New Industry-Wide Consortium to Strengthen Grid Infrastructure, Supports American-Made Products That Accelerate Clean Electricity  

Clean Power

A DOE Collaboration Is Developing Resources for National Grid Operators

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.