NRG Energy, which is building some of the largest solar power plants in the world in the U.S., is also looking at solar on a much smaller scale. Rather quietly last year, the company started offering residential leasing systems for homeowners in a number of solar markets. It’s likely the first such major energy company to do so in the U.S.
The company, through its NRG Solar subsidiary, is building some of the world’s largest solar projects in the U.S. Southwest. Among it’s projects in development are the 290 megawatt Aqua Caliente plant being developed by First Solar—over 200 MWs of which is now online, the 392 MW Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System being built by BrightSource, and the 250 MW California Solar Valley Ranch being developed by SunPower. The company also has a number of high-profile solar arrays, like those it’s installed at the Washington Redskins’ Fed-Ex Field in Landover, Md.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that the company is getting into solar on a smaller scale, too. Last year it quietly launched a new subsidiary, NRG Residential Solar Solutions. The company is offering solar leases in California, Texas and Arizona and some states in the northeast, according to spokesperson Lori Nueman. “We are working with firms that are local as well as ones that have a presence in multiple states.”
“NRG believes residential solar has tremendous potential for growth and will become a preferred energy choice for mainstream consumers throughout the U.S.,” Nueman says. “We began offering various options last year and continue to look at different models to ensure that we create the best experience for our customers. We currently offer residential solar leases and…are working on new offerings that will bundle solar with other products or services to provide the best energy solutions for customers,” she says.
Earlier this month NRG CEO David Crane said with the use of solar power and a generator or battery systems, consumers don’t necessarily need the power industry. Bloomberg reports that Crane made the remarks at this year’s MIT Energy Conference in Cambridge, Mass. “That is ultimately where big parts of the country go,” he said.
Crane anticipated that such systems will be led partly by third-party ownership offerings, like those offered by Sungevity or SolarCity. But, “We think the product offering could be better across the industry,” he said. He also anticipated that homeowners could produce energy for their homes when the sun’s not shining with fuel cells and microturbines. “The individual homeowner should be able to tie a machine to their natural gas line and tie that with solar on the roof and suddenly they can say to the transmission-distribution company, ‘Disconnect that line,’” Bloomberg reports.