updated 12/2/2008 11:35:00 AM ET 2008-12-02T16:35:00

Utility officials said the largest solar panel installation in the state has been completed — the first of some 150 solar projects planned for warehouse and factory roofs in Southern California.

The 600,000 square feet of solar panels on the roof of a distribution center in Fontana, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, will produce enough electricity to power as many as 1,300 homes, said Ted Craver, chairman and chief executive of energy company Edison International on Monday.

The installation was the first component of Edison's $875 million plan to put solar panels on a total of two square miles of rooftops.

The entire project would provide some 250 million watts of generating capacity, enough to power up to 162,000 homes.

"Projects like this one show the world you can protect the environment and pump up the economy, and I am proud to say it is happening right here in California," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said at the event announcing the completion.

Officials said the second installation would be atop a warehouse in nearby Chino.

Further installations must await approval by the California Public Utilities Commission, which could come early next year.

Buildings are being selected for their proximity to Southern California Edison customers, with warehouse operators earning rent for use of rooftops.

"The beauty of this type of project is, for solar projects one of the biggest resources you need is land," Craver said. "We're able to take what is otherwise a completely wasted resource — an empty rooftop — and turn it into something that processes clean, renewable energy."

The company intends to take advantage of the 30 percent investment tax credit for solar projects that was renewed in October as part of the $700 billion financial rescue program, he said.

More on solar energy | Schwarzenegger

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