Sacramento, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) customers will soon be able to buy blocks of the power produced from large-scale solar installations. The SMUD pilot program called SolarShares, will make solar available to all customers, including renters and occupants of multi-unit buildings.
The program provides all SMUD customers affordable options to purchase solar power. For between $5 and $30 per month, most customers can ensure that at least 10 percent and up to 50 percent of their energy comes from SMUD’s new solar farm. Price and percentage of consumption will depend on the customer’s annual energy use and the size of the “virtual” PV system they select.
SMUD has solicited proposals from solar developers for one-megawatt projects in the District’s service area. The developers would take advantage of federal tax incentives to reduce installation costs. They would build, own, and operate the solar systems, entering into 20-year fixed-price contracts to sell all of the power to SMUD, and SMUD would then resell the power to participating customers.
SMUD expects the project to broaden the market for solar by providing a choice to customers who cannot or would not participate in current SMUD solar programs, due to site problems, installation issues, up-front costs, or building ownership.
In the long term, SMUD expects the project to continue transformation of the solar market by taking advantage of economies of scale to lower the up-front cost of PV.
SolarShares complements the SMUD Greenergy program, which provides an opportunity for customers to buy renewable or “green” power by paying an extra charge on their monthly bill. SMUD then matches up to 100 percent of their electric needs with purchases of renewable resources for use on the SMUD power system.