PG&E Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2017

Solar and Distributed Generation

Each month, PG&E brings online an average of nearly 5,000 new private solar systems, with more than 300,000 solar customers now connected to the energy grid. That figure accounts for about one fifth of all private solar systems in the United States.

We are proud to partner with businesses and households who want to use solar energy, and we aid in that effort with one of the fastest times in the nation for connecting new private solar customers to the energy grid. 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.

Our Approach

PG&E is committed to expanding the use of clean energy options that meet customer energy needs and 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.

PG&E supports a variety of tools and resources for customers who want to use solar energy and other distributed energy resources. Our website provides information regarding the process of adopting solar and helps customers determine if solar is right for them. PG&E also offers incentive programs for low-income solar, solar thermal water heating, fuel cells, wind, battery storage and other advanced technologies.

If installing private solar isn’t an option, customers can also enroll in PG&E’s Solar Choice program, which gives customers the option to purchase up to 100 percent of their electricity from a universal solar program generated within California.

To help customers go solar, PG&E offers online tools and tips for customers to use as they consider solar for their home at www.pge.com/solar, including:

PG&E sends an interactive welcome kit to guide customers on how solar billing works, how to read solar bills and how to understand the true-up process at the end of the billing cycle. PG&E follows up with customers through targeted communications at key times throughout their first year as solar customers. A dedicated solar call center offers 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 log in to their PG&E account and track their charges and credits throughout the year, and to compare their usage month-over-month and year-over-year.

2016 Milestones

In 2016, PG&E reached a milestone of 2,527 megawatts of installed private solar capacity on the energy grid, representing approximately 285,000 solar customers in Northern and Central California.

Beyond this milestone, PG&E continued its strong support for solar and other clean energy technologies in numerous other ways:

  • Continued to offer Solar Choice. The Solar Choice and Regional Renewable Choice programs give customers the option to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from a universal solar program generated within California, without the need to install private solar panels.
  • 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, updated solar calculator and other online resources.
  • Supported other customer self-generation. As of early 2017, PG&E had supported 693 projects representing $341 million in incentives for energy storage, fuel cells, wind turbines, internal combustion engines and other distributed generation through the Self-Generation Incentive Program. The goal of the program is to reduce peak load and greenhouse gas emissions for participating customers.
  • Supported customer solar water heating. We provided average incentives of about $2,600 each to single-family residential solar water heating projects, and more than $35,000 on average for multi-family residential and commercial installations. These incentives have helped support over 1,200 gas-offsetting projects of all types since the program’s inception, which, in total, are expected to avoid over 1.7 million therms annually. The program is scheduled to run through December 2017 or until the budget of $250 million is exhausted, whichever occurs first, though state legislation may further extend the program.
  • 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 live and simulcast. We held 30 solar classes in 2016 with nearly 700 attendees in total.

Measuring Progress

In early 2017, we surpassed 300,000 interconnected solar systems, representing about 20 percent of all private solar in America—a significant milestone for PG&E, the solar industry and our customers. Additionally, as of January 2017, there were nearly 3,900 Solar Choice accounts.

PG&E Interconnected Customer Solar Systems
Total Solar Interconnections = 300,000+
1993 – 2000 156
2001 560
2002 1,222
2003 1,844
2004 3,071
2005 2,776
2006 4,310
2007 6,517
2008 6,488
2009 9,236
2010 10,340
2011 13,583
2012 17,416
2013 28,657
2014 44,988
2015 65,616
2016 67,951
2017 27,598 Footnote 1
  • 1. Total through June 30, 2017.

Looking Ahead

The future looks bright for clean distributed energy technologies like private solar. 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.

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. 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 data 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.