By Sharon Derby, Solar-Powered Homeowner and Director of Marketing & PR for Solar Energy World
When I got home from work last night after 6pm, I checked the messages on my answering machine and one stood out from the others. It was a notice from BGE telling me that today was an “Energy Savings Day”. They were urging me to use as little energy as possible between 1 and 7pm by not running large appliances, turning the air temperature up a couple of degrees, etc.
My house is already very energy efficient with brand new windows, doors, siding, EnergyStar appliances and is usually empty between those hours at least five days of the week with nothing on except the filter for the fish tank. However, I know most homes in my neighborhood are consuming much more energy than mine on a daily basis and are probably not as concerned about energy conservation to heed the “Energy Savings Day” advice the utility company was relating. It occurred to me that the more energy conscious electric customers are basically helping the larger consumers to save money on their monthly bills. So they should all be thrilled to find out that my husband and I have now decided to go solar as well.
Infrastructures built decades ago just can’t produce enough energy to feed the ever-growing needs of the current power grid. So during these extra hot days of summer, it’s not unusual for electric companies to schedule regular power outages for “system maintenance” due to the high volume of energy being consumed to cool homes. Utilities, like BGE, know their systems need upgrading but they also know customers are becoming more concerned about where their power originates. Since these companies are required to include a percentage of renewable energy in their power portfolio, they can put money into updating their system or take credit for an amount of the power generated by homeowners who have added solar panels to their homes thru SRECS.
A recent study done by California’s grid operator, CAISO has found a new cost-effective way to integrate solar directly into the system to provide reserves of energy. If this project is successful, it could potentially be the model needed to encourage power companies across the country to switch from fossil-fuels to carbon-free technologies. In addition numerous studies and grid experts have concluded that the electrical grid can incorporate increasing amounts of renewable energy and become even more secure.
The fact is solar powered homes benefit everyone in the community by feeding back the excess electricity to the power grid and stabilizing the system and as the prices drop, solar adoption becomes a home improvement that is an economic possibility for more homeowners. These “prosumers” are on the rise nationwide and help America take a big step toward increasing energy independence. That means great things for every electric customer. Especially the ones who use more power than others every day.