The utilities have had a monopoly on energy for over a century. We’ve all been tied into a grid that is now just as old and is showing its age. Its archaic, uses up a lot of water, and makes us vulnerable. If the grid is going to last another hundred years, its going to need a lot of work and modernization. SolarCity is starting to lead the movement for distributed energy resources (DERs). Before that happens, people need to be educated as to why and how they can move to alternative energy.
First the “why.”
The environment aside, moving to solar is more economical, cleaner, and makes us less vulnerable. It also breaks up the century old monopoly that is the utility industry. You now have a choice where you didn’t have it a decade ago unless you had a boatload of cash laying around.
In most states, the PUC (public utilities commission) regulates the energy industry. While this seems in the people’s best interest, you will always find a money trail leading back to the rich who can buy votes and decisions (I’m looking at you, Warren Buffet). It was never more obvious than recently when the Nevada PUC made a huge error in judgement by deciding to end net metering and charging a tax on solar customers. Net metering is when a meter literally runs backwards during the day putting energy back on the grid. The solar customer who provides this energy and doesn’t use it receives cash or credit from the utility. Its a win win for both the customer and the utility. The utility receives extra power during peak time keeping rolling blackouts at bay and the customer benefits with extra energy “stored” they can pull from at night and when they need some extra energy (such as during Christmas when they use more electricity or if they have extended guests). PG&E got the PUC to change a law saying PG&E only had to pay back customers at the wholesale price versus retail. That difference is 34 cents retail and 3 cents wholesale. So if they purchase power from John during the day for 3 cents and then turn around and sell it to Mary for 34 cents, they make a profit. However, that wasn’t good enough and the utility wanted net metering completely gone. Luckily, or smartly I would say, California disagreed. The California PUC put the message out that solar was here to stay and it was a legitimate source of energy. It voted to keep net metering. So now when you move into a house, you have the choice of how you want to get your energy.
Having a solar panel system on your house is like having a small, efficient energy plant on your roof. Technically, we could take everyone off the grid right now, but its not feasible because as long as your house is tied into the grid, the utility has the right to tax you. That is why we continue to keep people plugged into the grid at night. Regardless, your system uses no water to produce electricity and you are using the sun to power your home. And yes, the panels work very well in fog, rain and snow. Its so clean. There is no distribution charge nor does it rely on other resources like coal and oil.
The best part of the “why” is pure economics. If you have the choice to power your home with clean, cheap energy from the sun versus using “dirty” energy which depletes our resources and they ALL COST THE SAME, which would you choose? Almost everyone I ask this chooses the clean energy. That’s where companies like SolarCity have really turned the solar industry inside out. They pioneered programs that allow customers to get panels for no cost. So there is no investment. You can choose to buy the whole system, only buy the electricity or only buy the electricity with the option to buy the system at a later date. Its all out there. The goal now is to provide CHOICE to people without costing them a dime to make that choice.
The “how” is easy. This isn’t an endorsement for SolarCity although I will say I am a consultant. Its an endorsement for solar in general. Check out your local solar companies and see which one is best for you. SolarCity is best if you want a trustworthy company who keeps everything in house (installation, warranty, financing, and consultation). They do only rooftop installs. Another company like SunRun is better if you’re looking for ground mounts or have a weird roof roof like tar and gravel or clay tile. Regardless, each company is part of a movement and is on the same side of providing this alternative energy for no cost and no headache. We all want customers to have access to it whether you make millions or barely scrape by. Everyone deserves that chance to make the choice and to use cleaner energy.
Feel free to contact me if you want me to chat more in depth with you.