Electric utilities have been steadily losing customers to rooftop solar-energy installations, so now utilities are going into the solar-panel installation business.
Two Arizona projects are among companies nationwide testing the shift.
Tucson Electric Power is offering to install solar panels on customers’ roofs for a $250 one-time fee and a monthly charge equal to the average of the individual customer’s previous 12 months’ electric bills. The price of electricity the panels generate, and the utility harvests, shows up on the customer’s electric bills as a monthly credit. One independent analysis indicates the typical customer will earn enough credits to pay off the one-time fee in five years and come out about $6,800 ahead at the end of the panels’ 25-year life – if the price of grid-based electricity continues to rise at current rates.
Arizona Public Service will mount solar panels on its customers’ roofs for no fee and a flat $30 monthly credit. Participating customers could expect to garner about $5,600 in credits over the 25-year life.
TRENDPOST: Utilities are beginning to understand that the electricity business isn’t about selling electrons but providing a service. With traditional customers defecting to renewable energy sources – and political, environmental and regulatory pressures making it ever harder to win permits for new generating plants – utilities that embrace the renewables revolution soonest are more likely to survive with their customer bases and stock prices relatively intact.