San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) claims it has connected one in every four rooftop solar households in the US, or 200,000 customers through the end of last week.

by Richard A. Kessler

California’s second largest utility also asserts that it connects solar customers to the grid with an average five-day turnaround, among the fastest in the nation and a fraction of the industry average of four weeks.

Year to date, PG&E has connected more than 70,000 solar customers to the grid versus 45,000 for all 2014. Faster interconnections due to technical and process improvements helped the utility get more customers online with solar than ever before.

“We connected our first solar customer to the grid in 1993, and since then we’ve been the nation’s leader in bringing solar to our customers’ homes. We hear from customers that they want choice and control when it comes to energy management,” says Laurie Giammona, PG&E senior vice president and chief customer officer.

PG&E says it continues to work with industry partners to further shorten and improve the time it takes to connect new solar customers to the grid.

In September, PG&E announced its participation in the Northern and Central California SunShot Alliance, sponsored by the US Department of Energy. With its alliance partners SolarCity, Qado Energy, Accela and the City of Livermore, PG&E plans to construct and interconnect rooftop solar systems in one day or less.

Analysts forecast continued strong demand for solar energy in California this decade and beyond. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that increases the state’s renewables mandate to 50% by the end of 2030 from the present 33% by 31 December 2020.

In January, Brown also issued an executive order that aims to cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

Declining cost of solar has made it more competitive for residential customers, and electric utilities and the state have a number of incentive programs to encourage its use.

California leads all states with more than 10GW of installed solar capacity