John Howard: Residential solar works well with grid

  • seb_ra

Published: 2/26/2018 7:32:15 PM
Residential solar works well with grid

I have heard that residential solar doesn’t pay its fair share to the cost of the grid.

Photovoltaic solar owners do pay but they pay up front to install the solar panels. They also accept the risk of trying something new as fossil fuels go extinct. There are only 40 homes with PV in South Hadley willing to try this new thing.

The greatest service residential PV provides is the creation of electricity without using fossil fuels. That slows the effects of climate change and reduces air pollution. This is a service to all.

Residential solar puts electricity into the grid during peak usage from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during summer heat waves. During these times the cost of power to the electric company from the grid can triple.

Residential solar costs for creating electricity are fixed, saving money for the South Hadley Electric Light Department (SHELD) and ratepayers. Residential solar, sometimes called distributed power, creates electricity at the point of use. If a residence has extra electricity it goes to neighboring houses so that less power needs to come 100 miles over high-tension lines. There is less need to build more of those lines as the need for power increases.

The grid in return acts as a battery for residential solar. At night, power comes back to the house from the grid. That is the time when SHELD often has more power than it needs and has to sell it back on the grid at a loss. Home solar systems buy power at the usual rate which again saves SHELD money.

Residential solar could do the same thing without the grid, using batteries. The real benefit to residential solar from the grid is the long-term storage of electricity through a credit on the electric bill. Solar makes about three times more electricity in the summer than during the winter. Net metering allows the house to build up credit on the bill during the summer to be used in the winter.

Heat pumps, the coming thing in heating, use the credits reducing the use of fossil fuels. Residential solar and the grid work well together.

John Howard

South Hadley


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