Comment: Southern California Edison and "the world's largest solar deal"

13 February 2009

As Andrew Revkin reports in The New York Times' Dot Earth, Southern California Edison has announced what it calls "the world's largest solar deal". The electric utility has agreed to purchase electricity from solar thermal power plants that BrightSource Energy plans to build in California's Mojave Desert.

Margaret Bruce, Western Regional Director of The Climate Group, shares a few thoughts on the news.

"Southern California Edison's deal with BrightSource for a Solar Thermal plant in the Mojave is great news. This deal, and others like it, demonstrate the success of California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) - the mandate for expanding the contribution of carbon-free power to our energy supplies.

"As Mr Revkin mentions, there are differing perspectives on the merits of spending money on renewable energy vs. the lower costs of improving efficiency.

Frankly, this is flawed thinking. It isn't - and never should be - a question of one or the other. It is vital to do both. We will not reduce our impacts on the atmosphere through efficiency alone. And, we will not be able to transition to a low carbon economy if we don't rapidly deploy as much carbon-free energy as possible.


"California's renewable energy portfolio standard is proving to be one of the most effective policy tools to get more renewable energy on the grid.

"However, there are other hurdles to be overcome. To meet the challenges ahead, we need smart grids, more efficient buildings, transmission lines, energy storage technologies, and things we probably haven't even thought of yet. But with more policies like California's RPS, the things we need stand a good chance of becoming reality."

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