Originally published on the ECOreport.
A typical solar install, on an existing home, can cost homeowners an extra $2,500 for invasive and time-consuming panel upgrades. In some cases, these upgrades cost up to $10,000 — and that does not include structural impacts to walls, stucco, and landscaping. San Diego Gas & Electric’s new Renewable Meter Adapter (RMA) eliminates the need for this, by connecting rooftop solar systems directly to the existing electric meter panel, saving time & cutting solar installation costs.
RMA Bypasses All Of That
“Today, you typically need a 200 amp service from the utilities to install solar, electric vehicles, and things like that, but in the US there are millions homes with only 100 or 150 amp service. If your home is fed from overhead utility facilities, the cost for an upgrade to a 200 amp service is between $2,300 to $2,500. Here in San Diego a lot of homes are fed from underground utility facilities. With underground service, an upgrade from 100 to 200 amps can go as high as $10,000 because you have to pay for all the trenching and conduit from your service panel to the transformer, which can be down the street. The RMA, which costs only about $1,300, bypasses all of that,” said Ken Parks, customer generation manager for SDG&E.
One employee can now do a job in an hour, that used to require multiple utility employees for days.
SDG&E fast-tracks installations involving RMA because it knows they will go quickly. This means customers wait “less than a week” after permits are granted, instead of 6 weeks.
There are other adapters on the market, but SDG&E thinks it has something unique. In particular, as far as it knows, no one else has built an adaptor with a built-in 60 amp breaker.
This isn’t the first time SDG&E has developed products because it can’t find what it wants on the market. In 2013, it developed and launched a brand new interconnection project tracking system that is used internally by SDG&E employees as well as customers and their contractors.
Impact on The Solar Market
SDG&E’s Renewable Meter Adapter cuts 8% to 10% from the cost of a typical install and Parks expects that to translate into a +10% growth in the market.
“For people who could not afford that $10,000 upgrade, now this makes it affordable at $1,300,” said Parks.
He added, “By the way, in San Diego, solar is booming. In the last two months SDG&E has authorized over 4,600 new customers and this month we are headed towards another record breaking month, somewhere around 2,500.”
SDG&E has connected more than 62,000 customer rooftop solar systems to the grid, representing more than 415 megawatts of electricity.
Photo Credits: SDG&E’s Renewable Meter Adapter (RMA); Image Taken from the video SDG&E Net Energy Metering; Hunter Industries 102 kW SDG&E-owned and 86 kW Hunter owned, courtesy SDG&E.