New York Utilities, Solar Companies Offer Alternate Payment Plan

  • SolarCity, SunEdison, SunPower back utility plan for solar
  • Developers would pay grid fee, get assurance they can connect

SolarCity Corp. and two other solar developers joined some of New York’s largest utilities in a proposal to phase out a state program that lets owners of rooftop power systems sell electricity back to local utilities at retail prices.

Under the proposal to state regulators, solar companies would pay utilities a fee for some installations in exchange for greater certainty that they can connect the systems to the grid, the Solar Progress Partnership said today in a statement issued by Consolidated Edison Inc., owner of New York City’s electric utility.

New York is among more than a dozen states weighing changes in the economics of rooftop power. Installations have surged more than 10-fold in five years, leading utilities to complain that customers avoid the cost of maintaining the power grid when they sell surplus electricity from solar systems under a policy known as net metering. State officials worry that rates will rise for other customers. Governor Andrew Cuomo wants renewable energy to meet half the state’s power needs by 2030.

“We are in the midst of one of the greatest energy transformations in history,” and the joint proposal developed with utilities will help more people have access to clean power, Tom Werner, chief executive officer of SunPower Corp., said in the statement. SunPower is a San Jose, California-based panel maker and provider of rooftop power systems.

The proposal offers “a more sustainable, equitable policy to support the growth of solar and other distributed energy resources,” Mark Lynch, chief executive of Avangrid Inc.’s NYSEG and RG&E utilities said in the statement.

SunEdison Inc. and utilities owned by National Grid Plc and Fortis Inc. are also backing the proposal, according to the statement.

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