Texan Power Utility Wants Customers' Roofs for Solar

Tags: environment
Categories: energy

What? CPS Energy, the municipal utility of San Antonio, Texas, is pioneering a successful solar energy program that uses customers’ roofs to generate electricity--and profits for both the utility and building owner. In exchange for rooftop space, the company's SolarHost program buys, installs, maintains, and insures a solar panel system on the customer's rooftop. The host receives 3 cents for every per kilowatt-hour that the system generates, offsetting the host's monthly energy bill. Since SolarHost's start in 2015, CPS Energy has received enough applications to install more than 150 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity.

So what? The SolarHost business model overcomes the greatest barrier to the growth in rooftop solar electricity production, and a situation that threatens the financial viability of electricity grids, particularly in the U.S. southwest. Previously, homeowners who installed solar panels competed with local utilities for electricity sales (a system known as net-metering), while relying on the utility's grid infrastructure. The SolarHost model means that both the utility and rooftop owners benefit from new solar installations. The program also significantly broadens the market for rooftop solar since it doesn't discriminate based on a customer's credit score or income, as do solar system leasing companies. This new win-win solar rooftop business model could rapidly spread, including to Canada, and increase the rate of solar deployment. It could also slow the net-metering policies that continue to disrupt power utility business models across North America.

Source: Scientific American - How to Overcome the Greatest Barriers to Rooftop Solar Power

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