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New Models for Rooftop Solar Power - Building Priorities Briefing

Southern California Edison has launched one of the most ambitious solar initiatives yet. It involves using the roofs of commercial buildings to develop renewable energy resources. Building owners get paid to host the solar arrays on their rooftops, and the utility takes all the risk. Where else is this kind of program happening? Why would a building owner choose this over the other alternatives for rooftop solar? In this month's briefing Denis Du Bois and guest co-host Stephen Lacey decipher the impact for owners, tenants, and solar companies. Denis interviews the corporate sustainability executive for AMB Property Corporation, who just joined SCE's new program. (podcast)

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Program Notes & Transcript

Misery makes strange bedfellows. And so can a renewable portfolio standard. With about half of states now giving their utilities deadlines to get a certain percentage of their energy from renewables, utilities have been forging new relationships with real estate owners and the solar industry.

Utilities across the country are announcing plans to develop tens or hundreds of megawatts of solar generating capacity in partnership with building owners. It has the markings of a national trend that could be very good for the solar industry -- and for companies with certain kinds of commercial real estate.

Part 1 - Energy:Minute -- Alternatives for Rooftop Solar Ownership

In this month's program we'll be talking about rooftop solar power, so let's start by spending one minute on some background on how these systems are owned and financed.

» Transcript

Solar powered warehouse photo on EnergyPriorities.com

Part 2 - Utility-owned rooftop solar options for commercial buildings

Stephen Lacey, reporter with Renewable Energy World and host of "Inside Renewable Energy," joins Denis Du Bois to discuss how new and proposed ownership models mean for building owners, utilities, and solar companies. Additional clips from Mike Taylor of SEPA, and Paul Alvarez with the utility consultancy Metavu.

Part 3 - Interview: Aaron Binkley, AMB Property Corporation

Southern California Edison has announced three large installations of utility-owned solar on buildings. The latest of those is a warehouse owned by AMB Property Corporation. Denis Du Bois interviews Aaron Binkley, LEED AP, AMB's Director of Sustainability Programs. He's a registered architect and AMB's resident expert on energy, sustainability, and green building.

» Transcript

Part 4 - How will this model expand from here?

Programs like SCE's utility-owned rooftop solar could create the revenue certainty landlords need, to develop solar into new buildings -- especially where net-metering rates are low or the electric load in the building is small.

But for now there are enough flat roofs, and willing owners. SCE calls it "harvesting a scarce commodity," referring to the unused rooftop real estate in southern California, an area with an abundance of warehouses.

To be selected, a building has to have a large roof -- 250 thousand square feet or more. And it has to be in Southern California Edison's territory -- for now. PG&E, in northern California, is expected to launch a similar program soon.

Exactly how this model will expand is uncertain. It's not just implemented state by state, but utility by utility. Regions to watch are Northern Carolina, where Duke Energy has proposed an 8 megawatt program, and New Jersey, where PSE&G wants to install 120 megawatts. Utilities in Colorado, Arizona and Texas are also lining up to install distributed solar resources, using this new ownership model.

Renewable Energy World Magazine

"Inside Renewable Energy" podcast with Stephen Lacey


You've lost.

I wish it were otherwise, because we've all lost if weird climate and its late arriving sister could be stopped. However you've made comments impossible. Please fire your webmasters.

It's so opaque I don't believe I'll ever get through.

When your friends can't get through who does?

Thank you;


Also maybe ground-mounted open and parking-lot structures as an option?

Thanks, Denis, for this news video on solar power. I had not heard of your site before. I'd like to see the merger of "strange bedfellows" come to our neck of the country as well.