Shaking Off the Dust of an Age-Old Paradigm
Like me, I’m sure the single-most substantial purchase you’ve made, or will make, in your lifetime is your home. We want our homes to not only provide a reliable and enjoyable place to build memories with family and friends, but also yield a return of investment. In order to maintain the health and to grow my investment, upkeep and additional resources are needed to insure the home is performing at its best. Often times we can become complacent to only paying attention the aesthetics of the home and less about the resources it takes to run it.
Resource and fuel costs (such as natural gas, electricity, heating oil) were low on my list of considerations when seeking out a home. There were literally dozens of other items, appearance-based attributes, that took precedence. So what is the return of investment I gain from paying my utility bill? Nothing! I am simply help pay the utility company’s infrastructure, like the poles, wires, and transformers so that power can get to all utility customers.
In the sun-soaked epicenter of the U.S., many Californians are assessing the value and benefit of generating their own electricity through a solar system. With ambitious state goals to move away from conventional power generation sources and more toward renewables, the acquisition of a solar system was supported not only through Federal incentives, but also with California SB-1 funds funneled through the utilities. With being said, many Californians embarked on this opportunity to self-generate electricity and reduce their utility bills.
Also part of the infrastructure I spoke of earlier includes the generation of electricity. Ultimately, this is all you and I care about; do I have electricity to keep my food cold in the refrigerator, cook my food, and dial in the right temperature? Self-generation, part of what is now termed as distributive generation, is predominantly accomplished (residential level) through solar/photovoltaic. Distributive generation essentially means the generation sources are distributed closer and more abundantly near the location where those electrons will be consumed. Conversely, the utility-scale model often has its power generation facilities located far away from the load centers and transmitted through transmission lines.
Let’s face it, the heart of the matter is we all want our electricity as cheap as possible. The key concept of distributive generation at the home owner level is net metering. In short, the concept of the utility meter “spinning” both ways. With the advent of digital meters, the meter that can register electricity flow in both directions rather than physical parts moving back and forth. By having net metering capabilities, the utility can show me my cumulative energy charge which accounts for what I generated and what I needed from the utility to insure I had constant power even if a cloud covered the sun and I couldn’t generate. This process is referred to as true up.
So, not only do I want power as cheap as possible, the utility wants the same when it comes to operating costs. If a utility can avoid a capital investment into generation, transmitting, and distributing electricity, they too benefit financially. I wanted to come back to the preceding point because this is where the big win comes into play for the utility. All utilities spend billions of dollars every year to address power needs for a period of time that never amounts to more than 20-40 hours per year. That’s roughly a half percent of the hours that exist in an entire year. This period of time is called peak demand. Peak demand is just that; the time when customers are consuming the most electricity to maintain their standard of living. Commonly, peak demand occurs on those hot summer days when everyone’s air conditioners are at full blast. Why is this important? Because the installation of a solar system helps the utility offset its capital investment in more generation infrastructure, while reducing its purchases of expensive imported electricity when prices are highest.
When we start to unpack the benefits that can be reaped by the consumer and utility alike, the case for solar picks up momentum. All associated parties want to see maximum return on their investment, and want to embrace cost avoidance when it is in fact avoidable. Peak Power Solutions (peakpowerus.com) can help you take control of your energy costs and guide you on what is right for your specific application. No more paying money toward a utility infrastructure that gives you zero return on your investment. Peak Power will help you leverage the most abundant resource (for Californians, it’s the sun!) toward emissions-free electricity, while watching your utility bill plummet.