News from GreenTech Media, by way of a California Energy Markets report, states that consumer investments in solar power and energy efficiency improvements have avoided the need of grid infrastructure upgrades.
This, in fact, has saved consumers in California $192 million that would have gone to these upgrades. Instead, the California Independent System Operator’s 2015-2016 Transmission Plan now calls for 13 transmission projects to be cancelled.
Jim Baak of Vote Solar has predicted this for some time now. “This is really proof of what we and other energy advocates have been saying for some time – that solar, along with other clean distributed energy resources, such as energy storage, electric vehicles and demand response, will mean less utility investment in infrastructure and savings for consumers.”
A specific example of how solar power is preventing the need for new conventional energy additions can be seen an expectations of 50 megawatts of solar to be installed by 2017 will avoid two substation upgrades in Southern California Edison’s territory in Orange County.
Of course, these clean tech additions have created tensions. Utility owners make money by investing in new grid infrastructure improvements. There’s currently research underway to discover how utility shareholders can work with owners of distributed clean energy sources to find a win-win arrangement.
This report is also further proof that solar power provided through net metering is a true benefit to all. Utilities can no longer make the false argument that solar customers are forcing their neighbors to pay more.
Looking towards the future, it is becoming increasingly clear that utilities must put more effort into offering distributed energy services like rooftop solar power. While rooftop solar may never produce more total energy than utility scale solar, it is a market segment that utilities continue to ignore at their own risk.
The fact of the matter is that the residential sector accounts for more than 20 percent of total energy consumption in the United States. If a considerable percentage of homeowners switch to battery backed up solar power, this would obviously be disastrous to conventional utilities.
The bottom line is that the transition to a clean energy society will have numerous effects; it will democratize energy wealth, help create smart grids, reduce air pollution, and continue to prevent the need of spending on future grid projects.
Instead of money being spent on grid upgrades, people are investing in their own rooftop power plants. The democratization of the energy landscape rolls on. Savings through solar is what Californians and homeowners across the country can expect in the years to come.