California Utility Agrees to Buy Power from Solaren

December 3, 2009

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today approved a renewable energy contract for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), furthering the state’s progress towards its renewable energy goals.

Through its power purchase agreement with Solaren Corporation, PG&E is entitled to generation from a first-of-its kind space-based solar project. The experimental technology uses orbiting satellites equipped with solar cells to convert the sun’s energy into electricity, which is then converted into radio frequency energy that can be transmitted to a local receiver station. Space-based solar power has been researched in the U.S. for several decades and this summer the Japanese government announced plans to pursue a space-based solar program.

California-based Solaren Corporation anticipates 1,700 gigawatt-hours of energy per year throughout the 15-year contract term beginning in 2016 at a facility in Fresno County. While an experimental project is unique for the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard program, the CPUC approved the agreement because it is consistent with the state’s objective of increasing its reliance on a diverse supply of renewable energy resources and of supporting renewable technologies at reasonable costs and risks to ratepayers.

The proposal voted on by the CPUC is available at

The CPUC’s Renewables Portfolio Standard program requires investor-owned utilities, energy service providers, and community choice aggregators operating in California to obtain 20 percent of their retail sales from renewable energy sources by 2010. On September 15, 2009, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an Executive Order (S-21-09) increasing the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard goal to 33 percent by 2020.