Power utilities across the country are beginning to consider entering the residential solar power market.
Major power companies in Texas, Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan are looking to jump into the rooftop solar game. It could be argued that this move was inevitable as residential solar power has been spreading at considerable rates.
Utilities are starting to realize that they should offer their own solar power solution rather than witness a continued degradation in the amount of power that they sell to the residential market. Raiford Smith, a vice president of CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, said it best – “The whole theory is you need to serve your customer or someone will serve them for you.”
The preceding quote really sums up what is going on with emerging trends in the energy industry. Solar technology is changing the landscape very quickly. Utilities are becoming aware that they no longer have a monopoly on how electricity is generated and used.
While many utilities across the country have been waging wars against residential solar power, it’s becoming quite clear that solar is here to stay. The bottom line is that solar represents a new technology which has multiple benefits and must be allowed to compete in the marketplace. The arguments against solar from power companies has been and will continue to be quite weak. More utilities will finally realize this and decide to offer solar as well in the coming years.
As utilities enter the rooftop solar market, homeowners are now presented with three unique options for their solar panel systems; The large solar leasing companies, local solar installers, and the utilities.
So what will likely happen in a marketplace served by three unique types of entities?
Only one of these groups are truly looking out for homeowners’ best financial interests – the local solar installers. On the other hand, the large solar leasing companies and power companies will simply try to discover what is the highest amount they can reasonably charge their customers. One thing is for sure, it won’t be anywhere close to a fair price for solar power.
For example, solar leasing companies in high priced electricity markets will typically sell their service by saying – “You’re currently paying $0.20/kilowatt hour on average. Sign with us and we’ll lock in your lower solar power rate at $0.17/kilowatt hour. You’ll save thousands over the long term.” Utilities are likely to do something similar – “Go solar with us and you’ll save money right away”.
Again, the local installers have a huge price advantage by offering solar power solutions at about half the cost of the prices just mentioned. The main difference is that they do not want to become the new power companies. They want their customers to become their own mini power companies.
This is the true opportunity with solar power – you own your home, you can now own the power that you need.
The smaller, local solar panel installers are simply looking for a one time fee for their service before they go on to help another homeowner go solar. Unlike the leasing companies and power companies, they are not looking to make as much as they can from their neighbors. They’re trying to do the right thing.
One optimistic outcome here is that successful local installers should put some downward pressure on the pricing of their larger competitors. The assumption here is, of course, that solar remains a fair and equal playing field. All solar organizations should be allowed to compete and homeowners should be given all choices available.
If residential solar ownership eventually becomes the norm, we would essentially be witnessing a complete transformation of an entire industry. As power corporations lose their massive profits, the masses will benefit by the democratization of electricity. At the same time, the green energy lending business would flourish. Solar power loans would become a staple at banks and credit unions alike.
It will be interesting to see if power companies have enough foresight to offer reasonable rates for their rooftop solar solutions. They could easily stand to continue to lose many more customers if they don’t.