California Utility to Offer Customers Total Solar Power Option

California Utility to Offer Customers Total Solar Power Option

California State regulators have approved a Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) plan to offer electric customers a clean energy program that will provide up to 100 percent solar power for a modest monthly premium. The utility expects to start enrolling customers in late 2015.

Under a separate program option, customers will be able to contract directly with a third-party developer for a share of the output of a local solar project.

Peter Miller, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council calls the new program “a great opportunity for PG&E customers who want to reduce carbon pollution and buy 100 percent clean energy. PG&E’s green option is a big win for Californians and the environment.”

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that only 25 percent of residential rooftop area is suitable for solar. According to an agency report, “Clearly, community options are needed to expand access to solar power for renters, those with shaded roofs, and those who choose not to install a residential system on their home for financial or other reasons.”

PG&E reports it will buy energy from newly developed small and mid-sized solar projects located within its service area. “Participating residential and commercial customers can choose to cover either 50 or 100 percent of their energy use. They will pay the incremental cost of the new solar energy they consume, as well as related program costs. The initial estimated premium of two-to-three cents per kilowatt-hour likely will fall over time as solar costs decline relative to the cost of PG&E’s standard power, which is more than 25 percent renewable today.”

PG&E President Chris Johns ads: “Our green option is all about giving customers the power to choose and about bringing the benefits of solar to our communities. Our customers already enjoy some of the cleanest power in the United States, but we want to help them do even more to support clean energy and the green economy. Our green option will let them buy into a pool of clean solar energy, locally produced in our service area, to meet all of their electricity needs.”

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