As SolarCity, the rooftop solar system provider, has rapidly expanded its reach over the last 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.

On Monday, company executives 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.

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