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Solar news: July 10th, 2020

In this week’s Solar News Roundup, Sunrun announces plans to acquire leading competitor Vivint Solar, and Oregon’s largest utility company, Portland General Electric, joins the growing number of utility companies investing in virtual power plants.

Sunrun to acquire Vivint Solar in a $3.2 billion deal

SunRun, the largest residential solar company in the U.S., announced plans to acquire its top competitor, Vivint Solar. This acquisition, worth $3.2 billion, will increase Sunrun’s share of the residential solar market from about 9 percent to roughly 15 percent, putting Sunrun even further ahead as the leading residential solar company. Tesla, the next largest national solar installer, was overtaken from the top spot by Sunrun back in 2018.

According to both companies, the deal will help save $90 million a year, benefitting both investors and future customers of Sunrun: “Vivint Solar and Sunrun have long shared a common goal of bringing clean, affordable, resilient energy to homeowners. Joining forces with Sunrun will allow us to reach a broader set of customers and accelerate the pace of clean energy adoption and grid modernizations,” said David Bywater, one of Sunrun’s Chief Executive Officers.

PGE to launch a virtual power plant pilot program

Last week, Portland General Electric (PGE) announced its plans for a new virtual power plant pilot program for customers. Their proposed pilot, launching sometime this fall, will last for five years and include 525 home solar-plus-storage systems. Participating customers will receive bill credits to help them save on their solar-plus-storage system. Additionally, customers in specific neighborhoods (e.g. PGE’s Smart Grid Test Beds) or in low- and moderate-income households are also eligible for upfront rebates ranging between $3,000 to $5,000.

Like Green Mountain Power in Vermont, and other like-minded utility companies elsewhere in the country, PGE plans to use this as an opportunity to decarbonize their electricity supply and to better understand the impact and benefits of distributed resources on the electrical grid: “We’re looking at a decarbonized future. As we add renewables to our system aggressively, we need a flexible distribution system where customers are excited to bring some of their flexibility to the system to help balance those renewables,” said Andy Macklin, director of PGE’s Smart Cities & Grid Products divisions.


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