AT&T and SunEdison, a provider of solar energy services, are expanding AT&T's solar initiative with a new rooftop solar power installation in San Diego.

The rooftop photovoltaic system is projected to generate an estimated 420,000 kilowatt hours of energy in its first year of operation. Over 20 years, it is estimated that the power installation will generate more than 7.7 million kilowatt hours of energy. That’s enough energy to power more than 720 U.S. homes for one year.

The environmental attributes associated with the solar power installation will avoid more than 8 million pounds of carbon dioxide during the initial 20 years of operation, the equivalent of taking more than 800 cars off the road, according to SunEdison.

"Our residents and businesses have embraced clean energy, which not only benefits our environment, but also our region's economy,” noted San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders as the solar equipment recently was inaugurated.

In addition to the installation in San Diego, AT&T has contracted with SunEdison, a subsidiary of MEMC Electronic Materials (NYSE: WFR), to deploy five other solar power installations in California by the second quarter of 2011. The additional California solar deployments will be located in Dunnigan, Commerce, Mojave, Santa Ana and West Sacramento.

Reciprocal deal

In return for SunEdison’s agreement to construct, monitor and maintain an additional five solar power installations in California, AT&T will buy the energy produced from the solar systems to offset its grid demand.

"We are continually seeking opportunities to add renewable energy resources to power our business operations, and this agreement provides more sustainable solutions for our energy needs in California," said John Schinter, director of energy at AT&T, in a statement.

"SunEdison makes solar a reality for commercial clients throughout the world," said Brian Jacolick, general manager of the Americas region for SunEdison.