Microgrids Free of Utility Companies

Sunnova Energy is seeking permission from state regulators to develop microgrids for new housing developments that would not be reliant on established electric utilities.

In the September 1, 2022 New York Times story, A Solar Firm Plans to Build Off-Grid Neighborhoods in California, reporter Ivan Penn writes of a new concept that would break the monopoly California electric utilities currently have selling power to homes and businesses, with projected savings to electric customers.

“One of the nation’s largest rooftop solar companies, Sunnova Energy, asked the California PUC to let it directly compete with investor-owned utilities to provide electricity to homes in new residential developments as a private “micro-utility” — a business model that is illegal in much of the US. The company said it would offer those residents electricity that was up to 20 percent cheaper than the rates charged by investor-owned utilities like PG&E and SCE. If approved by regulators, the micro-utility model, also known as a microgrid, could undermine the growth of those larger utilities by depriving them access to new homes or forcing them to lower their rates to keep that business.”

Reporter Ivan Penn
Rooftop solar panel array

“If they don’t want to choose me, that should be their right; if they don’t want to choose you, that should be their right, too. People aren’t just going to take getting a bigger and bigger power bill every quarter. The politics of that are going to demand change.”

John Berger, the chief executive of Sunnova

MORE: Navajo Nation Community Gains Energy Independence Through Solar + Storage (video)

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