Solar Plus Storage Considered For California Rental Units

A new report concludes that adding solar plus storage solutions to affordable multi-family housing in California can result in considerable energy bill savings.

The Center for Sustainable Energy, the Clean Energy Group, and the California Housing Partnership all teamed up to produce the “Closing The California Clean Energy Divide.” The report focused on how affordable rented housing units can take advantage of “significant electric bill savings” via battery backed up solar panel systems.

The report considered electricity usage information from nine housing units serviced by Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Pacific Gas & Electric. The total savings varied from case to case, but each unit saw a financial benefit of shifting to solar plus storage.
solar plus storage california
A summary of the report’s 4 findings is as follows –

  1. Adding battery storage to an existing affordable rental housing solar installation in California can eliminate demand charges for building electricity loads, resulting in a net electricity bill of essentially zero.
  2. The addition of battery storage can almost double the building’s electricity bill savings achieved over the savings realized through solar alone.
  3. Battery storage can also result in incremental utility bill savings similar to solar for about a third of the cost of the solar system for owners of affordable rental housing properties in California.
  4. Solar plus storage projects result in a much shorter payback period than stand-alone solar projects.

The total market size for projects of this type in California includes more than 450,000 units. Electricity is often as much as 20 percent of a property’s operating costs, so potential cost savings in this category represents a significant opportunity. The report concludes that a general lack of awareness of the solar plus battery storage option is the primary reason why it has not been implemented yet.

While some savings should be expected to be passed down to renters in the form of lower electric bills, it’s also safe to assume that the majority of the potential savings will be utilized by property owners to achieve a quicker return on investment.

This report is to be followed by others to further assess the benefits and potential challenges of making the solar plus storage opportunity a reality.

What this report highlights fairly well is the considerable cost of conventional electricity in California. Not only is solar power cheaper than utility energy, but solar plus battery storage is as well.

Much like high priced electricity areas like Hawaii and parts of the North East, we can continue to expect more solar plus energy storage stories from California as well. It also won’t be too long before the rest of the country can start to implement these changes as prices continue to fall for battery storage technologies.

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