- Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) plans to roll out a new community solar program in response to California Senate Bill 43's mandate that the state's investor-owned utilities install 600 MW of community solar, Greentech Media reports. PG&E is mandated to offer 272 MW of community solar.
- PG&E's Solar Choice program will offer customers the opportunity to pay a small premium to buy 50% or 100% solar-generated electricity from the utility-owned arrays.
- PG&E has already sent out requests for proposals and contracted for eight projects totaling 30 MW, slated to be complete by the end of the year.
PG&E isn't the only California IOU to mandated to offer community solar. The other two major IOUs, Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), are required to build 269 MW and 59 MW, respectively, beginning this year, according to Senate Bill 43.
To buy power from the PG&E program, residential customers will have to pay an extra $0.0358/kWh for electricity. Purchasing 100% solar electricity would add an estimated $18/month to the bill of a typical 500 kWh/month residential customer. Business owners must pay $0.028/kWh to $0.0285/kWh extra.
A National Renewable Energy Laboratory report found an estimated 49% of households and 48% of businesses are currently unable to host a PV system. “By opening the market to these customers, shared solar could represent 32% to 49% of the distributed PV market in 2020, thereby leading to cumulative PV deployment growth in 2015 to 2020 of 5.5 GW to 11.0 GW, and representing $8.2–$16.3 billion of cumulative investment," the report said.
Greentech Media noted that some California residents without suitable rooftops have turned to community choice aggregation to serve their renewable energy needs, with two communities in PG&E's service territory, Marin County and Sonoma County, already doing so.