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California Utility Customers Getting All-Solar Option


By Rick Laezman | Mar 15, 2015
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California has long been a champion of solar power, and solar installations in the state have been growing at a rapid pace. Many consumers would like to use solar power but are still unable to do so. Now, one California utility is giving these customers the option to embrace solar.


In January, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced that it had received regulatory approval to offer its customers a clean-energy option that includes up to 100 percent solar power. Referring to the program as its “green option,” the utility said it is “all about giving customers the power to choose.” Expected to unroll in the fourth quarter of 2015, the green option will let customers choose to receive either 50 or 100 percent of their power from solar. They will pay the incremental cost of the power they choose, at an initial rate of two to three cents per kilowatt-hour. That cost is expected to drop over time.


PG&E, which already boasts about 25 percent power from renewables, will buy energy for the program from newly developed small and mid-sized solar projects within its service area.


In its announcement, the utility referenced research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which finds that only a quarter of residential rooftop area is suitable for solar installations due to structural, shading or ownership issues. The research supports what PG&E states is a clear need for community options “to expand access to solar power.”


The green option is not the only way that PG&E customers can choose solar. At the same time, the utility also unveiled a new program to let customers contract directly with a third-party developer for a share of the output of a solar project.


About The Author

LAEZMAN is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at [email protected]

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