- Arizona Public Service (APS) has rolled out a rooftop solar energy program aimed at income-limited customers, joining a wave of utility efforts to include a wider range of residents in the clean energy economy.
- APS will install a rooftop solar system on approved participants' roofs, sized from 4 kW to 8 kW, in exchange for a $30 monthly bill credit for 20 years.
- Utilities are increasingly looking to engage low-income customers: Duke Energy, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Consolidated Edison and others have recently developed programs.
Rooftop solar, energy efficiency and other clean energy offerings are often out of reach for low-income customers, who disproportionately rent or live in multi-family buildings where they cannot install rooftop panels or have little incentive to make upgrades and improvements.
Utilities focused on expanding the scope of clean energy resources are increasingly looking to those families who were not among the early first-adopters of renewables and were also left out of a slew of debt-based offerings in recent years.
APS' new program is open to low- and moderate-income single-family households, though there are other requirements including roof size, orientation (roofs must be west- and southwest-facing) and the home's structural integrity.
The utility will work with several installers on the offering, including Arizona Solar Concepts, Discover Energy Solutions, Harmon Solar, Sunny Energy and Southface Solar. The rooftop systems will be maintained by APS.
Participating customers will receive $360 per year for 20 years, amounting to $7,200 per household across the life of the program.
"With an investment of $10 to $15 million per year for the next three years, we look forward to seeing some of our customers, who otherwise wouldn't have access to solar, receive the benefits of renewable energy," APS Director of Customer Technology Marc Romito said in a statement.
Innovative rooftop and community solar programs are two key ways utilities are offering a wider range of customers access to distributed energy.
In South Carolina, Duke Energy has a 5 MW community solar program that includes 1 MW of shared solar, of which 400 kW are carved out for low income customers. LADWP's rooftop program offers the same credit as APS, a $30 fixed monthly payment to install a rooftop system.
Last year New York regulators approved a low income solar program for Consolidated Edison, to serve up clean energy to between 800 and 1,600 customers in the first phase.