Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today received permission from state regulators to offer electric customers a new clean energy program that will provide up to 100 percent solar power for a modest cost premium each month. PG&E expects to start enrolling customers in the fourth quarter of this year.
“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,” said Chris Johns, president of PG&E.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that only a quarter of residential rooftop area is suitable for solar due to structural, shading, or ownership issues. “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,”conluded an NREL report.
PG&E will buy energy for the program 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.
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.
Elected leaders from cities around PG&E’s service territory have supported PG&E’s efforts to give local residents options for greener energy. So have leaders of several environmental organizations.
“This program offers a great opportunity for PG&E customers who want to reduce carbon pollution and buy 100 percent clean energy,” said Peter Miller, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “PG&E’s green option is a big win for Californians and the environment.”