This is the year that utility-scale solar in the U.S. broke.  Hundreds of megawatts are now online and operational.  And next year will be even more impressive.

The mantle of the largest U.S. PV plant has been passed from Florida Power and Light's 28-megawatt (DC) DeSoto photovoltaic farm in Arcadia, FL to the 55-megawatt (DC) Sempra Copper Mountain solar facility in Boulder City, Nev., about 40 miles southeast of Las Vegas.  Construction at the 380-acre desert site began in January of 2010 with about 350 construction workers installing almost 775,000 First Solar solar panels.  First Solar also served as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.

The Copper Mountain facility was built by Sempra Generation, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE). “Completing Copper Mountain Solar is a major accomplishment. It demonstrates that large-scale solar can be developed at a rapid pace to help this country meet its clean energy needs, and further solidifies our position as one of the leading solar developers in the U.S.,” said Jeffrey W. Martin, president and chief executive officer of Sempra Generation.  

The power from Copper Mountain Solar and Sempra Generation’s nearby 10-megawatt El Dorado Solar plant has been sold to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under separate 20-year contracts.  

It's easy to see from the chart below that First Solar and SunPower dominate the utility PV market in the U.S. today; one of the two companies has been involved in every one of the 11 largest operating projects in the country.  Greentech Media Research takes a deep look at the U.S. utility-scale solar marketplace in this report and both of these articles.

We took a detailed look at the Blue Wing solar project here and the proposed 50-megawatt Turning Point Solar project here.

Here's a table of operational PV power plants in the U.S.


Developer / EPC


Size (DC)

PV Tech


Copper Mountain Sempra/FSLR NV 55 MWdc CdTe Sempra
Desoto FP&L/SPWR FL 28 MWdc c-Si FPL
Blythe FSLR CA 25 MWdc CdTe NRG
Blue Wing juwi TX 16 MWdc CdTe Duke
Jacksonville juwi FL 15 MWdc CdTe PSEG
Nellis FRV/SPWR NV 14 MWdc c-Si FRV
Wyandot juwi OH 12 MWdc CdTe PSEG
El Dorado Sempra/FSLR NV 12 MWdc CdTe Sempra
Space Coast FP&L/SPWR FL 12 MWdc c-Si FPL
West Pullman SPWR IL 10 MWdc c-Si Exelon

(Megawatt values are in DC and we assume an 87% DC-to-AC derate factor for projects that are quoted in AC. Data from Greentech Media.)