For customers who can’t or don’t want to install solar panels, alternative solutions need to be found by their utility. One option is a community scheme such as is being tried out in for example Hawaii. [50 Home Community Solar Project To Pilot In Hawaii]
Another option, which is being offered by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) with its just launched Solar Choice programme, is to supply customers with solar sourced power, in this case from northern and central California. What distinguishes PG&E’s offering from other programmes of this type is that it is also linked to a solar procurement programme.
As the programme develops, the solar energy purchased by customers will be sourced from these new solar projects built by developers across PG&E's service area.
"PG&E's Solar Choice programme is all about giving customers more choice and control over their energy, and bringing the benefits of solar to our communities,” says PG&E Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Laurie Giammona. “Now, they can directly contribute to bringing more renewable energy onto the electric grid – a win for our customers and for California."
PG&E leads by example
The Solar Choice programme is aimed equally at renters, homeowners and businesses. Enrolment levels are either 50% or 100%. Participants are billed a charge for the solar power being purchased and related programme charges and receive a credit for the standard generation no longer being purchased. Today, the net of these charges and credits is a premium.
Approximately half of US households and businesses are unable to install rooftop solar due to space, lack of sun exposure or ownership limitations.
Leading the way with the programme, PG&E is to supply its almost one hundred operations service centres across its service territory, where local crews, vehicles and equipment are based, with 100% solar power sourced through Solar Choice. PG&E hopes that this was also raise awareness of the programme and encourage customers to sign up.
According to PG&E, to date more than 55% of the energy the company delivers comes from sources that emit no greenhouse gases. More than 215,000 solar customers have been connected to the grid and the Solar Choice programme is expected to extend access to solar to approximately 40,000 additional homes and businesses across the company's service area.
In the first procurement phase the target is 50MW of solar. These new resources will range in size from 0.5MW to 20MW.