- Rhode Island regulators have approved a program aimed at helping National Grid customers compare different solar setups and incentives, with the utility claiming the program is the first of its kind in the United States, Smart Grid News reports.
- The SolarWise program is a part of National Grid's 2016 Rhode Island Renewable Energy Growth Program, and the goal is to boost customer-owned equipment by 160 MW over a five year period. The program will launch this spring.
- National Grid will partner with EnergySage, the nation’s leading online marketplace for solar, to develop the SolarWise Marketplace. Customers will be able to comparison-shop solar opportunities and evaluate multiple options to select an installer and solar financing package.
Going solar could start to look like buying a pair of jeans online, or comparison shopping a new automobile. With a goal of boosting customer-sited solar by more than 30 MW annually, National Grid has linked up with EnergySage to create an online shopping experience that looks like something more consumers are already familiar with.
“This is another example of Rhode Island leading the nation in the development of innovative programs that both lower energy bills and provide direct benefits to our environment,” Timothy Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island, said in a statement. “The PUC and our state legislators are to be congratulated for their foresight in crafting legislation and approving programs that can benefit thousands of Rhode Islanders.”
Legislation passed in 2014 called for development of the RE Growth Program, as lawmakers sought a way to increase distributed generation throughout the state. The program was developed with consultation from the state Office of Energy Resources and the Rhode Island Distributed Generation Board.
Customers in the SolarWise program can evaluate their multiple options to select an installer and solar financing package; owners of existing structures and those planning new construction will both be eligible to participate, the utility said.
“National Grid shares our dedication to proactively helping homeowners better understand the potential of solar energy by providing them with the right information and tools needed to make an educated purchase," said Vikram Aggarwal, founder and CEO of EnergySage.
National Grid said the program would do more than boost solar capacity. It is also expected to boost the Rhode Island economy through increased access to local installers and lenders.
The program is consistent with Governor [Gina] Raimondo’s commitment to lowering energy costs and expanding clean energy in the Ocean State," said Marion Gold, Commissioner of Rhode Island’s Office of Energy Resources. “Through SolarWise RI, Rhode Islanders will have the opportunity to lower their energy bills, take steps to protect the environment and keep more of our energy dollars in state."
The program highlights other innovative strategies National Grid is embracing in the region. In Massachusetts, for example, regulators recently approved the company's $1.2 billion efficiency strategy. And the utility is investing natural gas directly, including requesting approval for 20-year contracts for gas capacity on pipelines.