One of the top utility companies in the US, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), recently achieved a new milestone with regard to solar energy — the company now has more than 150,000 solar customers connected to the wider electric grid.
Amongst other interesting figures noted in the press release: PG&E currently connects an average of 4,000 new solar customers every month throughout its territory (spanning northern and central California), according to the company; PG&E currently possesses more solar customers than any other American utility; and at current rates of connection, PG&E connects a new solar customer to the grid roughly every 11 minutes or so.
While the numbers sound on the surface quite impressive, it should be remembered that 150,000 customers represents just 2.8% of the company’s total customer base of 5.4 million. So, while the company does possess more customers with solar photovoltaic systems connected to the grid than any other in the US, there’s still significant room for growth.
As a comparison, in Hawaii, roughly 10% Hawaii Electric (HECO) customers in Oahu possess solar systems connected to the grid — a much higher percentage of the total customer base.
The recent press release provides some details on the path taken towards that milestone:
Since 2007, as a participant in the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program, PG&E has processed more than 70,000 incentive applications through PowerClerk, online application software that streamlines application processing for both applicants, and administrators. Today, even with the wind-down of general market incentives, PG&E continues to use PowerClerk to manage general market projects and to process new incentives for the CSI Multifamily Affordable Housing (MASH) program.
PG&E also recognized early-on the value of giving customers access to high-quality solar estimation tools. Today, PG&E customers can access the Clean Power Estimator solar calculator directly from PG&E’s website, and with a few simple inputs, receive a personalized estimate that factors in their location, current energy use, planned energy efficiency improvements and financing method. This early analysis arms potential solar customers with enough information to confidently take the next step towards going solar.
Given the great potential for solar photovoltaics in California, it seems likely that these figures will continue to grow at a respectable rate.
Image Credit: PG&E
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