Renters are a black hole in the solar galaxy. Community solar is working to address this. Another option is renters purchasing on-site solar energy from property owners. But the added value doesn’t justify the increased complexity in the owner/renter dynamic (red tape aside). How would the renter know how her total energy cost compares to the utility-only scenario? And how does the property owner address this tension while earning a required return on the solar investment? Flat PPAs don’t cut it in the age of time-varying rate structures, rate structure reform, and myriad NEM variations.
A third-party app with access to the site’s utility interval data and solar interval data could determine the renter’s utility-only electricity cost. The renter would simply pay what she would have otherwise spent every billing period via a third-party app, which allocates that payment to the utility and the property owner. If the property owner offers a discount or charges a premium, it’d be a simple percentage of the utility-only electricity cost…ahh clarity. The tenant would have the satisfaction of powering her life with sunshine, along with a superior user experience offered by the app.
Note: OnGrid has no plans to build this app. Our priority is improving existing products for our users. Just putting an idea out there for consideration.
Michael Bishop, 8/25/16