Rhode Island utility launches solar shopping marketplace for customers

We like it when utilities work to provide their customers with the tools and resources they need to choose to go solar — and maybe even incentivize them to do so. Rhode Island electric customers of National Grid will soon have such a tool to use in researching and purchasing solar energy systems for their homes and businesses. Thanks to action taken by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, National Grid will be the first electric utility company in the country to offer its customers a simplified process to research and purchase PV equipment and to earn bonus solar incentives based on their energy reductions. The new program is called SolarWise Rhode Island and is part of National Grid’s 2016 Rhode Island Renewable Energy (RE) Growth Program. It will be launched in the early spring.

EnergySage“This is another example of Rhode Island leading the nation in the development of innovative programs that both lower energy bills and provide direct benefits to our environment,” said Timothy F. Horan, president of National Grid in Rhode Island. “The PUC and our state legislators are to be congratulated for their foresight in crafting legislation and approving programs that can benefit thousands of Rhode Islanders.”

The RE Growth Program was developed in accordance with legislation passed in 2014 that encourages the growth of distributed generation throughout the state and was developed with consultation from the state Office of Energy Resources and the Rhode Island Distributed Generation Board. The goal of the legislation was to increase the amount of electricity generated by customer owned equipment by 160 MW over a five-year period. That’s enough electricity to power 30,000 homes for one year.

To deliver the SolarWise program National Grid is collaborating with EnergySage, an online marketplace for solar, to create the SolarWise Marketplace. Through this Marketplace, customers will be able to comparison shop solar opportunities for their home or business and receive competitive quotes from pre-screened installers. Customers can then evaluate their multiple options to select an installer and solar financing package that best suits their needs. Owners of existing structures and those planning new construction will both be eligible to participate.

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“We’re excited to be working with a forward-thinking and innovative utility company,” said Vikram Aggarwal, founder and CEO of EnergySage. “National Grid shares our dedication to proactively helping homeowners better understand the potential of solar energy by providing them with the right information and tools needed to make an educated purchase.”
National Grid is the first electric utility company in the nation to collaborate with a solar marketplace to offer customers simplicity, transparency and choice when shopping for solar. At the same time the program boosts the Rhode Island economy through increased access to local installers and lenders.

“We are tremendously excited about the SolarWise Rhode Island Program,” said Marion Gold, Commissioner of RI’s Office of Energy Resources. “The program is consistent with Governor Raimondo’s commitment to lowering energy costs and expanding clean energy in the Ocean State. Through SolarWise RI, Rhode Islanders will have the opportunity to lower their energy bills, take steps to protect the environment and keep more of our energy dollars in state. It’s a win-win-win.”

Under the new program, Rhode Island customers may also be eligible for a bonus solar incentive if they take steps to reduce their energy consumption before installing a solar photo voltaic system. To qualify for the SolarWise Bonus, a customer must go through the National Grid Energy Efficiency Program and have an energy assessment of their home or business. The assessment will recommend steps a customer may take to reduce energy consumption. Depending on the number of energy saving measures a customer takes, they may be eligible for a higher long-term payment for their solar system’s output. The more steps a customer takes to reduce their energy consumption, the greater the solar incentive they can earn. SolarWise Rhode Island will be launched later this spring.

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