Renters Can Now Go Solar In California


California residents living in apartments will soon be able to go solar, with newly authorized state utility programs encouraging residential customers to sign up for solar, even if they don’t own the roof above their heads.

Customers will now have the option to meet all of their electricity needs using renewable energy, including solar energy. According to the The San Diego Union Tribune, those who sign up for California’s investor-owned utilities will help solar power plants meet energy requirements by manufacturing more panels. Another option is one that allows customers to obtain power produced by specific solar energy systems that cover some or all of their electricity usage. Then, customers would get a bill credit for the value of the solar power they’ve produced.

Utilities Commissioner Mike Florio explained customer can purchase from various renewable sources, or choose a specific project, such as solar. “Giving customers this option is a good thing and I hope the program will be well-subscribed.”

Targeting renters allows solar to really become the main attraction, as supporters of community solar point out. There’s also the fact that it provides low-income residents with more access to solar energy. Forbes points out that solar companies would lease solar energy systems to those with high FICO scores to ensure the loans were repaid. This way, solar project developers and renters both win. And for renters who have hesitated on leasing solar in the past because of the way the roof may be placed, now is the chance to get their bases covered through other solar means.

Solar customers who opt into the new program may end up paying more than they would for electricity, however, because they are not able to lease the panels or earn back credit from utility companies for the electricity delivered to the grid. Prices will be based on the cost of solar energy projects, which could be higher. On the other hand, if more customers join, the rates could be lower than traditional energy sources because more people opt in to use it. At this point, only time will tell as to whether the program is successful.

What do you think about community solar in California? Are you a renter who uses solar energy from your utility company? Let us know in the comments!


Image Credit: Photo by Black Rock Solar under a Creative Commons license

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