Solar and Distributed Generation
Each month, PG&E brings online an average of 6,000 new private solar systems, with more than 250,000 solar customers now connected to the energy grid. That figure accounts for more than one quarter of all rooftop solar systems in the United States—and customer interest continues to grow.
We are proud to partner with businesses and households who want to use solar energy. PG&E sees a future in which innovative energy technologies allow customers to have more choice and control over what type of energy they use and their overall energy usage, and we are making investments now that support higher levels of distributed energy resources, including solar, battery storage and electric vehicles.
PG&E remains committed to expanding the use of clean energy options that meet customer energy needs, as well as California’s environmental goals, in a smart and meaningful way. We are working to promote a shared understanding of the value provided by a connected grid while supporting new energy policies that allow for the continued growth of clean and affordable energy for all of our customers.
For 11 years, PG&E’s Better Together Solar Habitat program has provided more than $10.6 million to help respond to the housing needs of families in our service area. As the exclusive solar partner of Habitat for Humanity in Northern and Central California, PG&E has funded the installation of solar on more than 700 Habitat for Humanity homes in our service area.
PG&E supports customers who want to use solar energy and other distributed energy resources with a variety of tools and resources. Our website provides customizable information that helps customers determine if solar is right for them and offers incentive programs for private solar, solar water heating, fuel cells, wind, battery storage and other advanced technologies.
PG&E also offers online resources and tips for customers as they consider solar for their home at www.pge.com/solar, including:
- Ensuring energy efficiency at home before going solar
- Estimating costs of installing solar and potential bill savings with PG&E’s solar calculator
- Finding a contractor
- Receiving bids from at least three solar vendors
- Exploring different financing options
- Monitoring and maintaining the solar system after installation
PG&E is part of the Northern and Central California Alliance for the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative, which announced plans to construct and interconnect private solar systems in one day or less, an unprecedented goal given the industry’s current average of 30 days. The alliance, which includes PG&E, SolarCity, Qado Energy, Accela and the City of Livermore, will compete in the small systems category (1 to 100 kW) for a first-place prize of $3 million and second-place prize of $1 million.
In its 2015 rankings, the Solar Electric Power Association recognized Pacific Gas and Electric Company as a leader among energy companies by adding 787 MW of solar to the grid over the course of a year.
PG&E sends an interactive welcome kit to guide customers through their first year of going solar, including an explanation of how their solar bill works. PG&E follows up with targeted communications at key times throughout customers’ initial year. A dedicated solar service center provides knowledgeable and specialized customer service representatives to answer questions at any point in the solar adoption process. Additionally, an easy-to-use online portal allows solar customers to track their charges and credits throughout the year and tally how much money they have saved.
PG&E currently offers three types of solar and distributed generation incentive programs for customers:
- PG&E’s California Solar Initiative-Thermal program provides rebates to single-family and multi-family residential projects as well as commercial customers who install eligible solar water heating systems that offset natural gas for their home or business. The program will run through December 2017 or until the budget of $205 million is exhausted, whichever occurs first.
- PG&E offers solar photovoltaic (PV) incentives for single- and multi-family affordable housing and customers can also apply for incentives for new energy efficient homes that install solar.
- PG&E’s Self-Generation Incentive Program provides incentives for customers to implement other advanced on-site generation and/or storage technologies, such as fuel cells, wind turbines, combustion engines and advanced energy storage systems. The goal of the program is to reduce peak load and greenhouse gas emissions for participating customers.
Supporting clean energy at The Marine Mammal Center
The Marine Mammal Center is a nonprofit rescue and rehabilitation facility for sick and injured sea lions, seals and other mammals. Open to the public, they provide education and inspire action to protect the oceans. See how PG&E supports their sustainability mission by helping them to go solar and to install electric vehicle charging stations.
Solar water heating education and workshops
PG&E workshops help educate solar water heating contractors and the public about thermal technology and details of the California Solar Initiative-Thermal program:
- Solar water heating basics, which provides an overview of the various technologies
- Solar water heating systems for homeowners, which covers the design, specification and installation of systems for residential applications
- Solar water heating-advanced commercial systems, which focuses on large-scale systems for commercial applications
- CSI-Thermal workshop, which is required for becoming an eligible installer with the CSI-Thermal Program
In 2015, PG&E continued its strong support for solar and other clean energy technologies. Examples of our efforts include the following:
- Supported customer solar water heating. We provided average incentives of about $2,000 to single-family residential solar water heating projects, and more than $30,000 on average for multi-family residential and commercial installations. These incentives have helped support over 1,100 gas-offsetting projects of all types since the program’s inception, which, in total, are expected to avoid over 1.5 million therms annually.
- Supported other customer self-generation. We allocated an estimated $40 million to customer projects that will install approximately 30 MW of distributed generation, such as fuel cells, wind turbines, internal combustion engines and advanced energy storage systems.
- Continued to improve the customer experience. On average, PG&E connects a new private solar system to the energy grid in less than three days. This is one of the fastest processes in the United States and compares to an industry average of four weeks. We’ve also enhanced the experience for new solar customers with a welcome kit, redesigned bill and online resources.
- Raised customer awareness of solar power and other generation technology options. We offered a wide range of training opportunities on solar and other technologies for different audiences and education levels, both online and in the classroom. We held 42 solar classes in 2015 with more than 1,000 attendees in total.
Midway through 2016, we surpassed 250,000 interconnected solar systems—representing 25 percent of all private solar in America—a significant milestone for PG&E, the solar industry and our customers.
|Total Solar Interconnections = 250,000+|
|1993 – 2000||158|
|2016 Footnote 1||35,801|
- 1. Total through June 30, 2016. Return to table
The future looks bright for clean distributed energy technologies like private solar, providing customers with additional options that help them save money and use renewable energy. PG&E is committed to supporting customers who are interested in going solar, and we look forward to working with our stakeholders to make it easier to adopt solar and other distributed technologies in a sustainable way.
Employee Solar Discount Program
In 2015, PG&E provided a $1,000 incentive for employees that installed solar for their home.
PG&E offers new clean energy program
PG&E’s Solar Choice extends the option for solar to our residential and business customers who aren’t planning to install rooftop solar panels.
Approximately half of U.S. households and businesses are unable to install rooftop solar due to space, lack of sun exposure or ownership limitations. For a modest charge, residential and business customers can purchase up to 100 percent of their power from solar energy, regardless of their location. As the program develops, the solar energy purchased by customers will be sourced from new solar projects built by developers across PG&E’s service area.
PG&E is focused on building a flexible energy grid capable of seamlessly integrating all forms of clean technology needed to reduce our carbon footprint—a vision we call the Grid of Things™. Clean energy sources become more valuable by connecting to the grid, much like how a smartphone is more valuable when it’s connected to a network or the internet. With a modern, resilient, dynamic energy grid, we can bring clean, carbon-free energy to everyone, offering our customers more choices, more control and more convenience when it comes to their energy.
To realize this potential, PG&E advocates a forward-looking energy policy that supports evolving rate structures to compensate both energy companies for the grid services we provide to customers and customers for the value they bring to the grid. We look forward to working with regulators, customers and other stakeholders to develop new models that support a future when customers will use the energy grid as a system to complement the new energy technologies they have in their home.