Temperatures in central California are rising steeply, and the increased demand on the grid leads to increased blackouts. More solar power, particularly rooftop solar, can help alleviate this problem, said Environmental Working Group (EWG).
This week, the heat wave has been so intense that California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is requesting that utilities pause any maintenance projects between noon and 10:00 p.m. each day until temperatures drop. On August 14, demand on the grid reached a peak of 45,716 MW, forcing CAISO to set up rolling blackouts.
The intensifying climate is here to stay, but the management of energy for reliability can be improved, said EWG. EWG said state regulators failed to maintain and expand demand response programs that can reduce electricity usage.
The latest heat wave is leading to power supply challenges, highlighting a need for distributed rooftop solar. The drought has led to Lake Mead and Lake Powell to reach very close to “dead pool status,” meaning they may soon be at such a low water level that the hydroelectric dams nearby cannot operate. Under normal circumstances, the Hoover Dam can produce 2080 MW of hydropower, but recently its production has been cut almost in half, producing 1,076 MW.
Unfortunately, as conditions worsen, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) may be hampering the state’s ability to quickly dispatch rooftop solar. Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric want the CPUC to impose a monthly tax on rooftop solar customers, and cut financial incentives that make installing panels and batteries affordable to working-class homes.
(Read: “California NEM 3.0 revisited, Commission seeks feedback”)
Over 1.3 million homes and businesses have gone solar in the state, but if the utility-backed Net Energy Metering 3.0 goes through as proposed, solar will be financially out of reach for millions of families. As proposed, it will slow decarbonization efforts, limit the amount of local, reliable power, and take away personal choice from homeowners.
“The crippling heat waves and historic droughts are here to stay,” said EWG President and Bay Area resident Ken Cook. “These colliding crises should be more than enough reason for state regulators and Gov. Newsom to use every tool at their disposal to ease pressure on the grid.”
“California needs to provide residents with safe, affordable and abundant sources of electricity,” said Cook. “And it can start by rejecting the plot by PG&E and the other power companies to crush the state’s rooftop solar program.”
Analysis by Environment California found that rooftop solar could prevent the development of 148,000 acres of land. This is based on a state regulator estimated deployment of 28.5 GW of rooftop solar through 2045 in order to meet clean energy goals. That is an area about half the size of Los Angeles that could be preserved versus a utility-scale-only model.
The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) reports the U.S. solar industry employs about 230,000 workers, and 68,000 or more are employed in California.
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A residential metal roof covered with solar panels and sufficient storage would not only suffice for the home, be fire rated, have surplus power to assist the grid and prepare for a new electric car.
Isn’t that what we all want?
I have a Tesla Solar Glass Roof and an off-grid backyard ground mount solar panel system with batteries. During the Summer peak time usage from 4:00PM to 9:00PM when CAISO wants us to use less, I not only power my home and its air conditioning but also put 300 kilo watt hours back onto the grid, during those hours, over the first 3 months of the summertime peak usage hours. That energy can be used by municipalities for traffic lights, Cell phone towers for communication power and other critical infrastructure needs. What if every home could do that? They could if the utilities allowed homeowners to install up to 200% of their previous pre-solar use to gain more power to the grid. Even if the utilities only gave a 50% credit for all overages placed onto the grid, homeowners would take a lesser payback as long as their roofs created enough power to get a Zero bill at the end of the month even if the utility could sell half the power to others for a profit. The current 115% limit of previous use would never get homeowners to agree to any less payback on the system they own. They would rather buy a battery system and use the extra electricity to charge their batteries.
By the way, NEM-3.0 did offer homeowners a fix to install 200% of their previous use but also would charge the homeowner $8.00 per month as a solar tax for every kilo watt of panels installed. making the 200% an added “cost” rather than a “Benefit” to the homeowner. Who would up the monthly $64.00 connection fee to a $128.00 connection charge to up their 8,000-watt system to a 16,000-watt solar system and not get more than 3 cents per kilo watt hour in utility compensation?
California PG&E tariffs:
Summer tariffs from June 1 to September 30
First 10 kilo watt hours per day off peak = $.34 per kilo watt hour
Next over 10 kilo watt hours off peak = $.43 per kilo watt hour
On peak if still under 10 kilo watt hours = $.40 per kilo watt hour
Next over 10 kilo watt hours on peak = $.49 per kilo watt hour
Cost of 40 kilo watt hours per day = $16.90 per day with 10 kilo watt hours at peak time from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM when most people come home and fix dinner, watch TV and turn up the air conditioning.
30-day month total $ 517.00 with monthly meter fee of $10.00 included.
In Germany and Europa Gas and Oil prices are as high as never before. So electricity production with gas and oil is as expensive as never before. Nuclear is no option because the industry is unable to deliver any new plants within the next ten years.
Looking at the climate crises, the political crises and the fossil and nuclear energy cost and production crises, the only way out is going the way to decentralized electrification with renewable energy production and storage.
Investments into homesolar by homeowners should be largely encouraged.
35 year in LA, <100kwh/d, No AC and No EV, Had Solar/Thermal but don't use that much hot water. If DWP ever increase the feed-in tariff for extra dispersed power generation I would solarize immediately. Rooftop solar-elect panels shade the hottest part of the house with low weight loading on structure = better than stand-alone's. Whenever the utilities decide to pay say 85% of their peak charge rates…then I panelize the entire roof and get an EV.
Hoenergy Power arrives.
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