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Edison International in “If you can’t beat them, join them” move buys solar company

A SoCore solar installation at a Walgreens. Courtesy Walgreens

Edison International, which owns one of the nation’s largest investor-owned utilities, Southern California Edison (SCE), has purchased distributed solar company SoCore Energy. SoCore develops commercial rooftop installations. In making the purchase it appears Edison has become the latest large energy company to get into distributed solar more directly as has NRG Energy.

Chicago-based SoCore has worked with numerous retailers throughout the country like Walgreens, with which it announced earlier this year that it will install solar on more than 200 Walgreens stores throughout California, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. “SoCore Energy has built an impressive client base and pipeline of solar projects with large retailers and other businesses,” said Bert Valdman, senior vice president of strategic planning at Edison International. Other of SoCore’s clients include IKEA, Kimco Realty, and the Simon Property Group.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Edison International,” said Pete Kadens, president and CEO of SoCore Energy. “Aligning with a well-branded and progressive energy partner will enhance our attractiveness to customers and broaden our suite of offerings.”

While the purchase price of SoCore was not disclosed, in making the purchase, Edison International joins a short, but growing list of energy companies that see an opportunity in distributed solar generation. Other companies, like NRG Energy have invested in residential or commercial distributed generation companies. NRG owns Green Mountain Energy Company and Reliant both of which sell energy products in non-regulated markets, as well some of the largest solar generation projects in the World. But as early as 2011 the company saw the value of owning distributed solar generation. At that point it purchased commercial developer Solar Power Partners. Earlier this year it got a little more intimate with distributed generation when it announced that it would start installing residential solar through it’s third-party ownership subsidiary NRG Residential Solar Solutions.

This could be seen as a breakthrough in terms of a leading utility buying into distributed generation, but there are still many other utilities that are rather wary of distributed generation, like Arizona Public Service (APS) which is pushing hard against distributed generation and net metering. Still some new research is dedicated to ensuring that utilities and distributed solar installer companies can find a way to get along with utilities, which often feel challenged by having their customers generate their own electricity and having to reimburse them for that electricity. 

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