Can I Buy Solar from My Utility?


If you would like solar panels on your rooftop, you generally cannot by them from your utility. Utilities are regulated monopolies.

That means the state gives each utility a geographic territory within which it–and nobody else–can move power over wires and poles and sell it to homes and businesses. Instead of competitive pricing for electricity, the state then sets the rate that the utility can charge. 

However, utilities are generally forbidden from selling almost everything else, including solar power systems. This is because the utility might use its monopoly power to unfair advantage. Instead, lots of non-utility companies can and do provide rooftop solar systems. You get the value of competition for rooftop solar. But not the simplicity of a utility monopoly.

Still, in some cases, utilities offer power from large solar farms that are connected to the utility. This is known as “community solar.” You may be able to buy solar power from your utility if it’s coming from a large solar farm.

Stay tuned, though: These are the rules today, but the rules could change in the future!