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Why is solar powered battery backup becoming more important and justifiable?

In the past couple of years many of us have experienced that the PG&E utility grid is becoming less reliable.  And as we move into the future, it seems it may continue to decline. In the past, most major utility outages were local events.  They were often caused by trees falling on power lines, floods damaging in ground transformers, cars impacting power poles, or accidental disruption of power lines during construction. These outages were often easy to diagnosis and solve.  Most outages were under 24 hours. But things are changing.

Sonnen Solar Battery Backup System

Major events like hurricanes, tsunamis, fires, floods and earthquakes, while less common, are becoming more frequent and severe. We can look to Puerto Rico and see how natural events have caused many to be without power for years.  We can look locally and see how the October 2017 fires in northern California had many areas turned off for weeks, without electricity or gas.

We are now entering a new era and when the high winds blow, PG&E may de-energize the power grid for fire mitigation. These areas could cover thousands of homes. Per PG&E’s own documents these outages will usually last a minimum of 24 hours and up to 5 days or more. Why? PG&E not only has to wait for the storm to pass, but also visually inspect each pole, wire and transformer before re-energizing the line.

Illustration of solar energy production and consumption when using battery storage

Illustration of solar energy production and consumption when using battery storage

Solutions

At Synergy, we design systems that can not only meet your needs for backup but also be cost effective. These financial benefits include:

  • When pairing with solar, storage qualifies for the same Federal Tax Credit as solar.
  • Storage allows customers to move to utility rate schedules more favorable to storage and solar.
  • Most new residential users on PG&E pay a charge when they export power to the grid – storing and using your own power instead is more cost effective.
  • With time of use rate schedules, we can store power when the costs are low.  Then during peak times, we can use our own stored power instead of importing expensive PG&E power.
  • Often we can reduce the size of a solar array when we add storage.
  • And we need to consider other cost like lost food, work and other issues when the grid is down.

 

When you throw in the cost of purchasing and running a generator for backup, a battery storage system makes a lot of sense, with a lot less noise.

Roof-mounted solar panels on a remote house in the mountains with the quote by Henry David Thoreau: "What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on."