The market barriers to solar+storage in low-income communities are well known. Making matters worse in California, ten utilities have already hit their 5% peak demand limit on retail net metering for rooftop solar, while just as many could hit this peak in 2017. This means that net metering caps could also soon push solar out of reach for residential customers. But storage may be able to help.
In light of these issues, GRID Alternatives is installing solar+storage systems with microinverters, 1.2-kW AC batteries and AC combiner boxes donated by Enphase in the Imperial Irrigation District service territory (IID), which hit its 5% cap last March. These systems could keep residential solar within reach for utility customers, even after they hit the 5% cap. The systems are expected to cut a low-income customer’s bill by 45%, save the customer $810 annually and produce more power than the customer consumes for roughly 10 of 12 months. This has extra implications for low-income customers, who could continue to add no-cost clean energy under California’s Single-family Affordable Solar Homes program.
This business model could help GRID connect 50 low-income families with solar+storage projects in IID this year, and if replicated could ensure families in other utility territories keep reaping solar’s benefits, even under net metering caps.