San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) says its Renewable Meter Adapter (RMA) invention has helped nearly 3,000 private solar customers collectively save more than $3 million on the costs to go solar since the utility first announced the technology in August 2015.
According to the company, it developed its RMA as an alternative for expensive and time-consuming electric panel upgrades that are often required to accommodate solar. Typically, homes built before 1995 – or nearly three-quarters of San Diego homes – require electric panel upgrades before connecting private solar, says the utility. These upgrades, which SDG&E estimates can cost up to $10,000, often include construction to walls, stucco and landscaping, introducing additional delays and permitting requirements. Not only do these upgrades take time, but they also require intricate electrical work that can pose safety risks.
“I work with a number of solar customers, and after many conversations, I realized that electric panel upgrades were becoming an obstacle in the pathway to solar,” says Ken Parks, SDG&E’s customer generation manager and co-inventor of the Renewable Meter Adapter. “I knew that we could improve the customer experience if we could find a way to avoid the time and money associated with panel upgrades.”
According to the utility’s website, the RMA costs about $1,300 and contains a meter collar with a 60 amp circuit breaker and a fused disconnect box that can accommodate up to an 11.5 kW system. It can be installed between the service meter socket and the utility revenue meter on a customer’s existing service panel in under an hour, and SDG&E will operate and maintain the device for the life of the product.
Robert Clossin, one of SDG&E’s Rancho Bernardo customers, comments, “When our solar contractor recommended the Renewable Meter Adapter instead of a panel upgrade, we knew we would save money. However, the best part was avoiding the annoyance and extra time of having to upgrade our panel, trying to match the exterior paint on our home and coordinating additional inspections.”