Francisco CastroMay 9, 20194160
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), monthly electric bills are highest across the Sun Belt, especially in Alabama, Arizona, Nevada, South Carolina, and Texas. In each of these states, the typical bill is $125 or more.
Aside from geography, regulations and available power sources determine in great part what consumers pay for the energy they consume.
That’s why the installation of solar panels on a home, or thousands of them, has major implications for how utilities operate and what their customers pay. With a solar-powered home, you immediately see a drop in your electricity bill. And depending on the size of your solar power system, it can eliminate the costs entirely, especially if your utility has net metering, where the excess energy your home produces is sent to the grid in exchange for credit for when you draw electricity from it.
But you’re not the only who benefits from solar savings; your neighbors also do.
Last year, The California Independent System Operator (CalISO), which manages the utility grid in state, canceled or modified 39 previously approved transmission projects, avoiding an estimated $2.6 billion in future costs. And they were able to do this because of solar.
“The changes were mainly due to changes in local area load forecasts, and strongly influenced by energy efficiency programs and increasing levels of residential, rooftop solar generation,” the CalISO noted in a press release announcing the savings.
Residential solar generation is a sufficiently significant player in California’s energy mix, that — along with energy efficiency programs — residential solar is changing how CalISO decides to approve transmission infrastructure spending.
Not spending $2.6 billion means utility payers won’t have to shoulder the cost of those improvements. In other words, the money invested by homeowners who turned to solar for their energy needs is helping those who haven’t made the switch yet. And with solar power systems having lifespans of 20 or more years, those savings will continue for the next couple of decades.
“Rooftop solar, including solar on businesses, government buildings, and schools, can save utilities’ and consumers money on other distribution infrastructure costs as well. For example, expensive utility transformers can get overloaded on hot summer days when people are using more energy to cool their homes. Rooftop solar can reduce strain on the system on these days, which extends the life of utility equipment and creates savings for everyone,” noted Sean Gallagher in the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
Net metering also helps neighbors in an indirect way.
Since your solar system is generating electricity near the point where it will be used, this reduces strain on the grid’s distribution and transmission infrastructure and minimizes energy loss from sending voltage many miles from the nearest power plant. While some claim that net metering represents an unfair burden on non-solar electricity customers, many net metering cost-benefit studies have found the opposite to be true.
Electricity becomes significantly more expensive when there is a high load on the grid.
Solar energy reduces peak load on the grid. Solar panels generate some of the most valuable kilowatt-hours, due to the fact that solar panels, by definition, produce power on hot, sunny days.
It also helps reduce transmission-line congestion that can cause rolling blackouts and other inconvenient power outages for repairs and upgrades.
To find out how much a solar power system for your home will cost, you can access the Hahasmart price checker that provides you with an estimate of equipment and installation costs by simply noting your home address and monthly electricity bill. They’ll even help you contact a reputable solar installer in your area.
Indirectly, but no less important, solar-powered homes generate zero toxic emissions while reducing pollutants that come to the community from burning fossil fuels. This helps protect the health of the families that live there while reducing their healthcare costs.
If you really want to share the solar power with your neighbor, one way to do it is through a solar co-op. In this arrangement, neighbors form a cooperative that requests proposals from the area solar installers and selects one to complete all of the solar installations on the co-op members’ homes.
Grouping the installations will reduce the price of the installation, as much as 25%, in some instances. And you still have access to all the rebates, incentives and credits.
Solar co-ops have gained popularity in states like Virginia and Florida, but they can be created everywhere. The only drawback may be that the members may have to wait some time before it's their turn to have the solar panels installed on their roof.
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