PG&E expands solar plan

Pacific Gas and Electric announced Wednesday it plans to go to the desert to meet a large share of its future energy needs -- enough to power 530,000 homes.

Under an agreement with Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc., PG&E will buy 1,310 megawatts of solar thermal power from seven plants. The agreement supersedes an earlier agreement to purchase 900 megawatts of power from BrightSource. The first of the plants -- a 110-megawatt facility -- is to be built in the Mojave Desert town of Ivanpah. It's expected to be operational in 2012. The second facility is expected to be built in western Nevada, 53 miles north of Las Vegas.

"Through these agreements with BrightSource, we can harness the sun's energy to meet our customers' power requirements when they need it most – during hot summer days," said John Conway, a PG&E senior vice president.

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