The Salt River Project utility ends Community Solar, a program that allowed customers to pay a premium to support solar energy, and replaces it with EarthWise, a program supporting solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy.
Salt River Project is ending a program that allowed customers to pay a premium to support solar energy, and has replaced it with a program that supports solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy.
The Community Solar program still has 2,700 customers who can finish out their 5- or 10-year contracts, but SRP no longer is taking on new customers for that program.
The state’s second-largest utility now offers an EarthWise Energy program. Customers pay 1 cent more for each kilowatt-hour of electricity they use, and can choose to pay that premium on either half or all of their energy. Information is available at www.srpearthwise.com or at (602) 236-4448.
The program is available for most residential and business rate plans, but not the prepaid M-Power program.
The money will go toward SRP’s investments in various renewable-energy projects. Renewable energy credits, or RECs, from those power sources will be dedicated to the customer’s account. RECs can be bought and sold separately from the actual electricity produced at renewable power plants.
SRP has a self-mandated goal of getting 20 percent of its power supply from renewable energy and energy conservation by 2020. When SRP dedicates RECs to customers in the EarthWise program, it will require the utility to buy more renewable energy to meet its own goals. RECs can’t be double-counted toward a customer account and toward the SRP goal.
“With SRP EarthWise Energy, customers can match their household or business use with clean energy, help grow demand for renewable energy and make a difference in the environment,” SRP Director of Customer Programs Lori Singleton said.
About 1,500 customers have opted to pay into the EarthWise program since it launched in November.
Under the Community Solar program launched in 2011, customers paid 9.9 cents per kilowatt-hour for energy from a large solar plant in Florence, and that energy was intended to offset power used at their home or business. The actual electricity from a power plant can’t easily be directed to a particular address.
Both programs aim to mimic installing solar or renewables on a customer’s roof.
In 2013, SRP had to lower the price to participate in the solar program because so few customers were participating. Many more customers were choosing to install solar themselves though leases, which netted them monthly savings on their bills.
SRP changed the rules for customers who install their own solar in 2015, and the number of customers doing so in that utility territory plummeted.