Blog posted On November 13, 2019
With last year’s devastating wildfires in our recent memory, PG&E recently made the decision to temporarily shut down power services in high-risk areas. Power lines taken down by high-speed winds can cause sparks that ignite exceptionally dry foliage. Downed PG&E power lines have been linked to the 2018 Camp Fire that ripped through Northern California towns like Paradise. PG&E’s decision to shut off power sheds light on another issue, our reliance on utility companies. With climate change escalating and more climate-related problems expected to occur, it’s a good time to consider options to take control of your home’s energy needs.
In times of climate-related crises or natural disasters, many homeowners opt for gas-powered generators. While gas and diesel-powered generators are typically available, they can become expensive fast. Commercial energy rates average about $0.14/kWh while the rate of running a diesel energy costs closer to $1.00/kWh. Generators also depend on the availability of gasoline or other carbon-based fossil fuels, which cause pollution and may be harder to come by during an emergency.
Solar panel installation can help you store reserve energy at your home but will require some planning ahead. You realistically can’t get a solar panel system installed during a disaster, but you can prepare by adding a solar system to your home ahead of time. Solar system installation comes with an upfront cost, but over time you will save on your electric costs and be prepared for an energy disruption.
Microgrids that operate outside of major utility company can also support homeowners in the case of a natural disaster or planned power outage. When members of the community invest in their own utility infrastructure, major utility companies take notice. Adam Browning, executive director of Vote Solar explained, “distributed generation resiliency will be critical for services to be provided if you de-energize transmission lines. Relying on customers to modulate and own their own supply, that is directly at odds the with regulatory model that supports capital deployment by utilities. We need to point them towards the end goals of resiliency, safety and clean generation.”
Planned power outages may become more common as major utility companies try to be proactive about preventing damage during natural disasters. Adding a backup energy system to your home, like a solar panel system, may help you lower your ongoing utility costs and give you an alternative energy source during a disaster.