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One of SunPower's current installations is shown here. SunPower signed a contract to provide California with 250 MW of flat panel solar photovoltaic power by 2012, helping to reestablish the U.S. as the global leader in solar.  (Source: MMA Renewable Ventures/SunPower)
California is thinking green with solar, nuclear, and wind

California is thinking green.  Hot on the heels of San Francisco's announcement of its big green tax cut -- subsidies for solar panel installation that will provide citizens with energy savings -- California has more big solar news.

The state's largest utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has signed deals with OptiSolar and SunPower to provide 800 MW of new solar power to the state in the form of massive solar photovoltaic plants.  The move will reestablish the U.S. as the global leader in solar power by being the world's largest set of grid-tied photovoltaic installations, surpassing solar-hungry Spain and Portugal.

The arrays will provide residents with 1.65 billion kilowatt hours each year and will power up to 250,000 homes.  Jack Keenan, CEO and senior vice president of PG&E states, "This commitment not only moves us forward in meeting our renewable goal, it's also a significant step forward in the renewable energy sector.  Utility-scale deployment of PV (photovoltaic) technology may well become cost competitive with other forms of renewable energy generation, such as solar thermal and wind."

With the upcoming capacity, 24 percent of PG&E's power will come from renewable resources. This exceeds the 20 percent that the state demands of the company by 2010.  Keenan says the new installation will help to ease California's massive power demands during peak afternoon hours.

The estimated completion date for Optisolar's 550 MW is 2013, while SunPower should finish up its 250 MW in 2012.  Both plants will be built in the sunny central San Luis Obispo County, north of Los Angeles.  The new farms are somewhat unique in that typically farms of this size have used solar thermal technologies instead of photovoltaics.  One cost efficient thing about the new plants is they'll be able to use almost entirely preexisting lines.  This will reduce the construction costs and thus reduce the cost per kilowatt hour as well.

OptiSolar's plant, the larger of the pair, will cut as much carbon emissions as removing 90,000 cars from the road.  It will use the company's cutting edge thin-film photovoltaic equipment.  It has already filed for permits and hopes to begin construction by 2010.  Randy Goldstein, CEO of OptiSolar states, "The Topaz solar farm will grow clean electricity on previously disturbed, unused farmland with low-profile panels minimizing visual impact.  It's designed to be compatible with key wildlife species and avoid environmentally sensitive areas."

OptiSolar currently employs 400 people in Hayward, California at a solar panel manufacturing plant.  In order to aid the construction it plans on creating another in Sacramento.  This new plant will create 1,000 "green-collar" jobs.

Meanwhile SunPower brings considerable experience to the table, having installed 350 MW in capacity in 450 sites on three continents.  Among its achievements are the installation of the largest U.S. photovoltaic facility, 14 MW at Nellis National Air Force Base in Arizona, and the installation of the world's first utility-scale photovoltaic plant in Bavaria, Germany.  The company has plans to sell solar panels at Wal-Mart, JC Penney, and Macy's to compete with IKEA's new solar offerings.  Sam's Club is also offering competitive products.

Adam Browning, executive of the Vote Solar Initiative praises the initiatives stating, "What you are seeing here is the foundation of an industry that can deliver electricity cleanly, cheaply, and reliably than the fossil fuel alternatives.  That's really good news because the Department of Energy predicts we will need 386 gigawatts by 2015 just to keep up with load growth...This is a very large, great leap forward in economies of scale. This is the wave of the future."

California also is considering new nuclear expansion with California firm Fresno Nuclear Energy Group LLC.  The company plans to build a new plant in San Joaquin Valley, in addition to California's four operational nuclear plants, which provide the state with a great deal of electricity.  The firm has contracted Constellation Energy in Baltimore to design build and operate the plant. 

The new nuclear plant would provide 1,600 MW of power, and would cost approximately $4B USD.  Californian citizens will vote this fall on whether to allow the construction of the plant.  Costs for nuclear range between $0.05 and $0.11 by current estimates, while costs for solar range between $0.15 to $0.20.  Both can be significantly cheaper than this thanks to federal subsidies.

Officials behind both the solar and nuclear projects warn that if Congress does not renew tax credits for alternative energy, efforts will likely slow and whither.  It currently looks likely that Congress will indeed renew these measures as they enjoy strong national support.

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RE: Clarify, please
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/15/2008 12:57:38 PM , Rating: 2
I would read it as 20 cents. I just realized I do not have a cent key on my keyboard. When was that removed?

RE: Clarify, please
By dubldwn on 8/15/2008 1:03:52 PM , Rating: 2
ctrl + / + c

RE: Clarify, please
By AlexWade on 8/15/2008 1:36:06 PM , Rating: 2
That didn't work for me in FireFox. But ALT+0162 did -- ¢. That is ALT+0162 not ALT+162.

RE: Clarify, please
By 9nails on 8/16/2008 10:48:28 PM , Rating: 2
I think Control + Slash + C is a MS Word macro.

RE: Clarify, please
By stirfry213 on 8/15/2008 1:04:12 PM , Rating: 2
Since when did a keyboard have a cent sign on it?

RE: Clarify, please
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/15/2008 1:11:07 PM , Rating: 2
They use to, I can not remember the last time I would have needed it. So, I have no idea. Of course they were on type writers. Which I learn to type from a type writer not on a keyboard.....So, maybe I'm just old. :)

RE: Clarify, please
By stirfry213 on 8/15/2008 1:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
Got a link to a pic? Cuz I don't believe there was a keyboard with it. Maybe a word processor, but not a keyboard.

RE: Clarify, please
By JohnnyCNote on 8/15/2008 1:38:42 PM , Rating: 1
RE: Clarify, please
By stirfry213 on 8/15/2008 2:16:31 PM , Rating: 1
And where is the cent key in the sequence... the only keys I see are alt, 0, 1, and 5.

Read the original comment. He said there was a cent key on the keyboard. And keyboard != typewriter.

RE: Clarify, please
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/15/2008 3:19:35 PM , Rating: 2
to the right of the P key.

Yes, said keyboard, however did add learned to type on a typewriter. Therefore maybe that is what I'm remembering.

RE: Clarify, please
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/15/2008 3:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm cent key challenged.... I just can not get it. :(

RE: Clarify, please
By Xenoterranos on 8/15/2008 5:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
Just hold down the alt button, and type in the number sequence. On the last keystroke, the cent sign will appear.

RE: Clarify, please
By Spookster on 8/15/2008 5:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
and when we locate that would someone please show me where the "any" key is. I've been searching for it for years.

RE: Clarify, please
By bodar on 8/15/2008 5:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
Certainly, the location is clearly detailed in the ID10T manual. Thank you for using RTFM Tech Support, and have a nice day!

RE: Clarify, please
By Hoser McMoose on 8/17/2008 1:58:34 AM , Rating: 2
The 'any' key is slightly hidden on most computers in that it's on the computer itself and not the keyboard. It is usually right beside the power button and is sometimes labelled 'reset'.

Try pressing it sometime! :)

RE: Clarify, please
By Cullinaire on 8/17/2008 12:48:05 PM , Rating: 2
It's right next to the keteral key. What, you want me to help you find that one too? Should I hold your hands?

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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