Fremont’s Department of Utilities conducted a survey in July and August to examine some of the technical aspects of solar energy. Fremont residential customers provided their responses by answering 14 questions on the City’s website or in paper format. The study, funded by a U.S. Department of Energy Technical Assistance grant, was conducted by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) or previously, the Solar Electric Power Association. Results are based on 420 responses, 184 conducted online and 236 completed in paper format.
SEPA reported that most customers are either very interested (35%) or interested (35%) in community solar, similar to findings nationwide. The power source appeals to customers because it reduces dependence on fossil fuel (61%), is good for the environment (57%) and provides potential financial benefits (52%).
About one third (32%) of customers prefer a monthly payment structure rather than a lump sum, and almost all (94%) said they would pay a monthly premium of $5 per month. Also, Fremont customers report a higher level of commitment to community solar than most other utility customers surveyed, with 34% indicating that nothing would discourage them from participating. Board of Public Works Chairman, Paul Gifford said, “The board was very pleased with the survey’s results and appreciates the suggestions and comments received from customers. We will continue working on the project and will share more information through bill stuffers as well as hold several community meetings early next year.”
Moving forward, the City will provide more information about community solar technology, which over half (58%) of customers say they require, and determine the monthly cost of participation required for a solar farm large enough to meet a portion of Fremont’s power needs.