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Solar leader SolarCity to launch independent power networks

Published Mar. 17, 2015

As SolarCity, the rooftop solar system provider, has rapidly expanded its reach the past few years, its executives have pushed hard against the utility industry, criticizing it as a hidebound monopoly standing in the way of change.

Now, SolarCity officials are trying a different tactic: moving into that business themselves.

Company executives on Monday announced a program aimed at cities, remote communities, campuses and military bases under which they will design and operate small, independent power networks called microgrids. While the move will not turn the company into, say, Con Edison overnight, it represents a step in that direction.

"The microgrid product is basically a culmination of all of the technology that SolarCity's been developing over the past eight years," said Peter Rive, the company's co-founder and chief technical officer, calling it "a template that can be scaled up to basically be the next-generation grid."

SolarCity's package of products and services would allow localities to create independent electricity networks using a combination of rooftop solar power, batteries, backup generators and demand management, Rive said.

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