The 500-kilowatt plant, described as the largest of its kind, will deliver power to PG&E;'s grid during hot summer afternoons and at other peak demand periods.
"It's a prototype installation that delivers power to a specific point where it's needed," said Siemens spokesman Mark Stimson. "This is more economical than the traditional approach of distributing added power throughout a network."
Stimson added that Siemens is holding talks with other electric utilities that are interested bolstering their output with similar solar units.
PG&E; spokesman Jeff Lewis said the new facility is capable of supplying power for 100 to 150 homes. "It's already been fired up, and it's working fine thus far," he noted.
The plant, built by Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco, is part of a pilot project funded by PG&E;, the Department of Energy and other utilities and government agencies.