PG&E celebrates solar milestone

PG&E surpasses 150,000th solar customer, making it the largest solar utility in the country.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- 2014 was a record-breaking year for the solar industry, and this year isn't showing any signs of slowing down.

Solar installers are gearing up for another busy season. Crews for Donald P. Dick will complete hundreds of jobs in 2015. The heating and air conditioning company got into the solar business six years ago, foreseeing a huge opportunity for growth. Sales manager Bill Hanner says solar finally makes financial sense for more families: "Everything has come down in price to where it's acceptable and it's an expense that most families can handle and it does offset an electrical bill that they're gonna pay anyway."

Pair that with a 30 percent solar investment tax credit that expires at the end of 2016, and the conditions are just right for a solar boom, which won't be going away any time soon. Hanner explains, "In California we're gonna be looking at what's called Net Zero Houses in 2020 which means all houses will have solar on them at one point or another."

On average, PG&E says it's connecting about 4,000 new solar customers per month across Northern and Central California, more than any other energy company in the nation. That's a new solar customer approximately every 11 minutes! Spokesperson Denny Boyles says that includes, "Homes, businesses and schools, and places like the Memorial District." The Clovis Veterans Memorial District estimates their parking lot and rooftop solar panels are saving the district $90,000 in energy costs a year!

Boyles says it's a win-win-win situation: "It benefits the customers obviously. It allows them to manage their energy costs better. It benefits the environment, because it's a source of electricity that doesn't produce greenhouse gases, it's carbon free, it benefits us."

While solar isn't for everyone, PG&E foresees a future where it will be. PG&E will soon offer its customers a new clean energy program known as "The Green Option." Customers will buy into a pool of clean solar energy, locally produced in PG&E's service area.

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