Rooftop Solar, Batteries are the Solution to Grid Outages
New report finds clean, Distributed Energy Resources can keep lights on when disasters strike
WASHINGTON, DC, Feb. 08, 2023 — A report released today by Vote Solar and Solar United Neighbors illustrates the worsening crisis of grid outages across the United States and outlines how to leverage local electricity to avoid yet another series of power outages. Distributed Energy Resources (DERs), like rooftop and community solar, paired with battery storage have already reduced the frequency of rolling blackouts. State regulators and elected offices need to act now to put DER programs in place in a way that is affordable and increases resilience for millions of families and businesses.
In 2022, more than 140 million people in 40 states across the country dealt with blackouts or calls to conserve power. With extreme weather caused by climate change on the rise, regulators and policymakers anticipate continued grid capacity challenges in 2023 and beyond. That’s why local solar and batteries must be considered a keystone in future grid solutions to increase resilience and reliability. These technologies can discharge power when the grid needs it most, and when aggregated, can add up fast.
“Local solar and batteries help to prevent blackouts – particularly for our most vulnerable communities and households – in a way that is affordable, accessible and clean,” said Sachu Constantine, Executive Director of Vote Solar. “And while their potential has already been demonstrated, we urge regulators and policymakers to prioritize these investments, enabling distributed energy resources to play a critical role in relieving the strain on electricity grids across the United States.”
The California heatwave in September 2022, prompted the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to call on people to conserve their power from September 1st through September 8th. The grid narrowly avoided blackouts during the heatwave due to the contribution of distributed batteries. More than 80,000 distributed batteries connect to the California grid, which can provide 900 MW of capacity to the grid, the equivalent of nearly three gas-fired power plants. But under existing policy constraints, only three quarters of the capacity of these batteries was exported to the grid during this time period, which still represented 684 MW of power.
Americans have already witnessed the devastating impacts of these rolling blackouts and conservation requests from grid operators. The U.S. has more power outages than any other developed country. Last year alone, the United States suffered more than fifteen natural disasters, causing more than $1 billion in damage each. In 2020, utility customers experienced 1.33 billion outage hours. In addition to the disruption of essential services and well-being, these outages cost consumers an estimated $44 billion. This is equivalent to 11 hours of power outages and $355 of financial damages per household across the United States. The more solar and batteries are installed, the less our grid is forced to rely on polluting fossil fuels with significant price volatility.
“Going solar helps families save money and take control of where their electricity comes from,” said Anya Schoolman, Executive Director, Solar United Neighbors. “It benefits their neighbors and communities as well. It provides resilience to the electric grid. It protects those who can least afford to lose power.”
About Vote Solar
Since 2001, Vote Solar has been working to lower solar costs and expand solar access across the United States. A 501(c)3 nonprofit with more than 94,000 members nationwide, Vote Solar advances state policies and programs needed to repower our electric grid with clean energy and achieve a more environmentally just society. By identifying and accelerating solar solutions in legislatures and public utility commissions in over 20 states, Vote Solar works to combat the climate crisis, lower energy costs for ratepayers, reduce harmful pollution, and build a brighter, cleaner, more equitable future. Learn more at www.votesolar.org.
Solar United Neighbors
Solar United Neighbors is a non-profit organization that helps people and communities go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights. As part of this mission, we work to promote the benefits of solar around the country.
Solar United Neighbors