National Grid has proposed a community solar plan that will target more than 20,000 low- to middle-income utility customers in Massachusetts. According to the proposal, the program would allow homeowners within a specific income bracket to subscribe to renewable energy and benefit from the cost-saving electricity of community solar.
The National Grid program is intended to address what Jayson Uppal, the utility company’s solar and storage manager, describes as a gab in the local market. Solar options are often reserved for homeowners that can afford to install private solar panels but National Grid’s community solar plan hopes to provide clean energy options to low-income homeowners and residents that rent.
Based on the proposal, National Grid hopes that participants will receive up to $20 in bill credits monthly on their utility bills. This credit will be distributed to eligible subscribers that take part in the cost-saving energy plan. According to National Grid, the savings would stem from low-cost power being delivered by solar developers. Developers wouldn’t need to market their facility as National Grid would be responsible for recruiting and enrolling low-income customers in Massachusetts.
Costs to finance the facilities would also be lower as National Grid would provide payment for all of the electricity generated for subscribers. Since costs are lower and the utility company works with customers to subscribe them to the community solar plan, the proposal would offer a low-risk means of distributing clean energy.
Though National Grid is confident in its community solar plan, skeptics have been vocal about their concerns. One such skeptic is the chief executive of clean energy investment firm Sunwealth, Jonathan Abe. According to Abe, the plan is “misguided” and blocks opportunities from Massachusetts private solar market.
If the proposal is approved, National Grid hopes to enroll customers from the 130,000 homes that already receive a discounted monthly rate. Currently, the utility is awaiting state approval before it can move forward with its community solar plan.