Distributed Energy Resources

Public power makes strong showing in solar, storage rankings

Public power utilities had a strong showing in the Smart Electric Power Alliance annual Top 10 lists recognizing U.S. utilities that added the most new solar and storage to the grid in 2017.

Compiled as part of SEPA’s 11th annual Utility Market Survey, the lists include the top utilities in four categories: new solar megawatts and watts per customer, and new storage megawatts and watts per customer.

Several public power utilities are represented on the Top 10 utility list for solar rankings broken out by annual watts per customer. Madison Electric Works, a public power utility in Maine, came in first place in the “watts per customer” ranking with 1,819.6 watts per customer.

In addition to Madison Electric, other public power utilities that made the Top 10 solar watts per customer list are:

  • Clarksville Light & Water in Arkansas (Number four on the Top 10 list, with 1202.1 watts per customer).
  •  Moreno Valley Utility in California (Ranked No. 6 with 1188.4 watts per customer)
  • City of Bowling Green Municipal Utilities in Kentucky (Number 7 on the list with 938.3 watts per customer)
  • The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority in Arizona (Ranked No. 8 with 912.5 watts per customer)
  • Village Electric Utility in Brewster, Ohio (Ranked No. 9 with 901.4 watts per customer)
  • Nixa Electric Utility in Missouri (Came in at No. 10 with 831.1 watts per customer)

Meanwhile, Texas-based public power utility Austin Energy earned the number six spot on the Top 10 list for utility solar rankings on a megawatt basis, with 285.9 MW.

On the solar megawatts list, investor-owned Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) regained the No. 1 spot with 831.3 MW, while Southern California Edison (SCE), last year’s No. 1, was second with 547.1 MW. 

Energy storage

Public power utilities were also represented on the SEPA utility energy storage rankings annual watts-per-customer Top 10 list. Glendale Water & Power in California was No. 5 with 22.9 watts per customer, America Samoa Power Authority was No. 6 with 20.4 watts per customer, and City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., was No. 10 with 8.8 watts per customer.

Details on public power utility storage efforts

Glendale Water & Power in 2017 successfully installed a two-megawatt battery energy storage system, or BESS, next to the utility's newly upgraded Grandview Substation.

City Utilities of Springfield, Mo., in late 2017 formally dedicated and put in service a battery energy storage system that will allow for the use of renewable energy to charge the batteries during off-peak times and then discharge at times of peak demand. The storage system is located at an electric substation.

This year’s Utility Solar Top 10 lists are based on data provided by 423 utilities, representing around 114 million customers across the United States. The Storage Top 10 lists draw on data from 169 utilities, representing 70.7 million customers.

SEPA said that key takeaways from the study include:

  • While California utilities took the top two spots on the solar MW list, the rest of the Top 10 in this category show the ongoing growth of strong regional markets. Rounding out the top five are No. 3 Xcel Minnesota (522.3 MW), No. 4 Duke Energy Progress in North and South Carolina (355.4 MW) and No. 5 Xcel Colorado (318.8 MW).
  • Nine of the Top 10 utilities on the solar watts per customer list are small municipals or electric cooperatives, underlining the spread of solar in rural communities.
  • By contrast, the Top 10 lists for storage — both megawatts and watts per customer — show growth still centered in the Southwest and Hawaiian markets, which have high levels of solar. Several utilities in these regions appear on both storage lists, including — SCE, Hawaii’s Kaui Island Utility Cooperative, Arizona’s Tucson Electric Power and California’s San Diego Gas & Electric.

The complete list is available at https://sepapower.org/2018-top-10-winners/

Public power was also well represented in SEPA’s annual solar and storage rankings for 2016.