Employee Invention Aims to Make Solar for Individual Homes Faster, Safer and Less Expensive

More than 4,000 SDG&E customers have used a Renewable Meter Adapter for safer, quicker and less expensive private solar installations

As private solar adoption for individual homeowners in the region continues to expand, so do opportunities to improve the process. In 2012, after recognizing that electrical panel upgrades were creating a roadblock for many customers considering rooftop solar, SDG&E employees Mike Colburn and Ken Parks began working to create a device that would help alleviate the time and financial impacts that come with electrical panel upgrades.

Typically, homes built before 1995—or nearly three quarters of San Diego homes—require electric panel upgrades to safely power rooftop solar panels. While the panel upgrades alone average $2,300, there are often added costs for construction, which can quickly exceed $10,000. Not only do these upgrades require a financial investment, they also introduce additional permitting requirements and safety risks that come with intricate electrical work.

The solution: the Renewable Meter Adapter. Now, instead of waiting for panel upgrades and associated permits, a customer can purchase the Renewable Meter Adapter for $1,326 and about one week later it will be installed by SDG&E. Beyond installation, SDG&E will own and service the Renewable Meter Adapter for the lifetime of the device.

August 2015 marked the first installation of the duo’s invention, and to date nearly 3,000 customers have taken advantage of the technology, collectively saving more than $3 million in panel upgrade and construction costs, with that figure growing daily. Put simply by co-inventor Ken Parks, “This technology is a win-win—our customers are happy and connecting their solar panels is now easier.”

This innovative device gives SDG&E customers a new option when considering private solar for their home. Learn more about the Renewable Meter Adapter at sdge.com/RMA.

Previously published April 4, 2016.