SDG&E opens up solar power to the masses

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San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has filed with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for approval of a proposal offering its customers solar purchasing options. The proposal complements rooftop solar and includes two different pilot programs. Customers can opt buy some or all of their energy from solar projects located in SDG&E's service territory or negotiate directly with a local solar provider, even if they do not own a home, cannot afford a solar investment, or do not have the ability to put photovoltaic panels on their roof.

“Research shows that fewer than 30 percent of our customers currently can take advantage of rooftop solar either because of structural, shading or ownership issues,” said James Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E. “Our proposal would expand solar access to all of our customers and also open up a new potential market for solar developers. With the addition of more clean solar energy, our communities, the environment and our region will benefit.”

The two programs are:

Share the Sun

  • 10MW of solar power will be available for the program from projects owned by solar providers.
  • Customers could acquire a portion of the power produced by a solar-energy system in SDG&E's service area to cover all or part of their electricity use and receive a bill credit for the value of the solar power their portion generates.
  • The green attributes of the solar power would belong to the customer and would not be applied toward SDG&E's renewable portfolio goals.
  • SDG&E will take delivery of all the energy from these projects and any unsubscribed energy will be added to SDG&E's renewable portfolio, but will be over and above what is procured to meet the 33% renewables target.

SunRate

  • Customers could have their energy supplied from local solar projects already under contract to SDG&E with as much as 10MW available under this rate.
  • Customers could buy the solar energy from SDG&E to cover 50%, 75%, or all of their energy use. The price will be based on the cost of the solar energy from the local solar projects with a minimum of one-year’s commitment.

Avery said, “By participating in one of these pilot programs, they could benefit from economies of scale and optimal solar sites that will help drive down costs, while also having the flexibility to take their solar subscription with them if they move within SDG&E's service area.”

SDG&E is proposing these programs on a pilot basis to test customers' interest and preferences.
 

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