- Rocky Mountain Power (RMP), Utah’s biggest electricity provider, has unveiled a new Subscriber Solar program that will allow customers without roofs suitable for rooftop solar the opportunity to own a portion of the output from a centrally-located solar array.
- Utility-scale solar developer juwi will act as engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for a 20 MW array, scheduled to be complete by the end of 2016. Customers will be able to purchase 200 kWh blocks of generation to cover their own electricity use at a premium price of $0.117/kWh.
- The first-come, first-served program starts January 1, 2017 and is expected to benefit participants when the utility’s power price rises. RMP summer peak demand electricity can be $0.145/kWh. There are no upfront or maintenance costs, but a termination fee will be required for leaving the program before three years.
“There is a growing segment of our customer base that wants solar and this allows us to offer it to them,” RMP Spokesperson Dave Eskelsen told Utility Dive. “As soon as people heard about the program they began contacting us to ask when they could sign up.”
A 2015 report form the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s 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.
Community shared renewables are a popular offering among utilities across the country, as they allow utilities to offer renewable energy to consumers without the regulatory tussles involving utility-owned distributed generation or net metering policies. In Utility Dive's 2016 State of the Electric Utility survey, 56% of respondents from utilities across the nation indicated their utility is pursuing community solar as an emerging revenue stream.
Community solar is expected to grow 59% annually through 2020, reaching a 2020 U.S. installed capacity of 534 MW, according to U.S. Community Solar Market Outlook 2015-2020 from GTM Research.