Team Orange County, a joint project by four local colleges, won second place in engineering for the innovation, functionality, efficiency and reliability of the solar-powered house it designed and built for the 2015 Solar Decathlon.

Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey edged Team OC by one point to win the hard-fought engineering competition. Students from the University of California, Irvine, Chapman University, Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College also participated on Team OC.

“Given that UCI is known for its engineering, of all the competitions, this one meant the most to us,” said Alex McDonald, Team OC project manager and a mechanical engineering student at UC Irvine.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the decathlon pitted 14 college teams from around the country and the world in a competition to design and operate the most attractive, affordable and energy-efficient solar house. The event was held over two weeks this month at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine.

Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison, and SCE donated a combined $400,000 to the solar decathlon and to support Team OC as part of the companies’ efforts to encourage the use of rooftop solar.

SCE has been supporting innovation and helping customers go solar for more than 15 years. The utility has connected more than 670 megawatts of residential rooftop solar in more than 130,000 homes to the electrical grid.

Recently, SCE proposed changes to rules governing rooftop solar systems to make them fairer to all customers. The changes would have solar net energy metering customers share in the cost of maintaining the electrical grid. Whether homes have solar panels or not, all customers depend on the grid for reliable electrical power.

A California Public Utilities Commission analysis shows that if the changes are adopted, SCE would see a doubling or even tripling of the number of solar customers by 2025. Solar users or those who are in the process of connecting solar before 2017 will be grandfathered in and will continue to be part of the existing net energy metering program for 20 years.

SCE offers free monthly webinars and Solar Connection Events throughout its service territory to teach customers about the costs and benefits of solar and the tax credits and financing available.