A plan proposed by Souther California Edison (SCE) for the largest U.S. installation of advanced solar panels on otherwise unused large commercial rooftops across Southern California was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

During the next five years, SCE will install, own and operate 250 megawatts (MW) of solar-generating capacity. The utility also will conduct competitive solicitations offering long-term power contracts to independent solar power providers who will install an additional 250 MW, bringing to 500 MW the total generating capacity of the project.

“This innovative solar rooftop project is part of Edison International’s 25-year commitment to developing cleaner renewable and al-ternative energy sources for our customers,” said Theodore F. Craver Jr., Edison International chairman and CEO. “The program will create hundreds of neighborhood solar power plants, strengthen local grid reliability and produce hundreds of new green jobs to bol-ster Southern California’s economic recovery.”

During fall 2008, SCE completed the first of what eventually will be about 150 sites making up this program: a 600,000-square-foot Fontana, Calif., distribution warehouse roof. The rooftop now holds 33,700 advanced thin-film solar panels with a generating capacity of 2.4 megawatts of direct current power. SCE already has begun construction of its second installation atop a 458,000-square-foot indus-trial building in Chino, Calif.

Based on the regulatory approval, competitive solicitations will take place for the remaining roof leases and equipment needed for the 250 megawatts of facilities SCE will install and operate. A limited number of ground-mounted installations also will be considered as part of SCE’s solar program.