SolarCity Corp (SCTY) Halts Home-Battery Project As Utilities Balk


SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) told Bloomberg that it has stopped installing and connecting systems in California as utilities have been reluctant to link them to the electric grid. It’s been more than a year since utilities in the state started denying grid interconnections for battery connected solar systems. To resolve the issue, the California Public Utilities Commission has promised a ruling, but SolarCity is tired of waiting.

SolarCity’s ambitious project faces hurdles

The San Mateo-based company said that it has halted applications for grid interconnections at the state’s three biggest investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. For more than two years, SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) has been working on this experiment that promises to change the way we power our homes.

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More than 500 customers have so far signed up to have battery packs installed. But only 100 of them have actually received them. And only 12 customers have received permission to connect to the grid. SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY)’s plan was to link battery packs to rooftop solar panels. The batteries store electricity produced by panels during the day for use at night. That method could revolutionize the energy industry, affecting traditional utility companies. So, utilities are fighting back.

PG&E not blocking or delaying SolarCity’s program

The big three investor-owned utility companies in California are stalling, SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) says, in connecting the batteries to the grid. And they are charging a hefty fee of as much as $3,700 per customer to do so. SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) spokesman Will Craven told GreenTechMedia that installations that are already under contract will continue. But the company has stopped paying $800 per customer for a utility system that takes several months to process. Utilities charge another $600-2,900 for new meters and various fees before the system is grid-ready.

Utilities have argued that batteries would store grid power, and feed it back under the guise of solar panel-generated power. Pacific Gas & Electric, which has approved 11 of 12 grid-interconnections, reiterated that it’s not trying to delay or block SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY)’s energy storage program. But the utility won’t rush the inspection and connection process.

SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY) shares plunged 3.41% to $62.83 at 9:51 AM EDT.