Updated: Apr 30, 2021
The Grid as a 2-Way Street; A Tale of 3 Coasts
Nationwide, it's been a rough month for the grid. The weather, the humans, even the groundhog took no pity and conspired against us all, but somehow, again, the humans have survived. It's warmed up a bit, but yet here I sit, somewhat frozen in stark-eyed sticker shock as I lay gaze upon my newly minted $160 February 2021 power bill. Now I know some folks in Texas have bills 80 times that. YES! I wrote 80 times that!! $16,000 plus dollars!!! How will they pay that? I'm not exactly sure. But while I scramble for a paltry $160, a bill that is still 35 times my usual $5 monthly electric fee, the non-solar owner in the wrong place can get hammered for costs nearly TWICE that “measly” 35 times increase. (True, as a solar pv owner/generator in the PSE&G service area of NJ, I usually get a $5 monthly electric bill. I OWN my solar pv, the ONLY way to fly, and VaraUSA gets you there as well!)
On the East Coast my panels were covered with snow and ice many days in February. My worst production month ever since I've been energy attention bound and began tracking in 2010. The clouds and snow events were unrelenting. The cold drove my electric space heater use skyward. Our electric consumption ate through most of my energy credit bank in January. There was nothing left in the energy stash jar, and all my snow and ice bound system could muster was about 450 hard-earned kWh for the entire month; less than half its normal monthly average.
And yet, with all that working against us, we were still a 72 or 73 daytime comfortable in our home, hot water heated gloriously by endless tankless electric, cooking clean with stove-top radiant heat, hang-drying clothes in the warmed basement. Even charging the Tesla when needed (although I do make trips to the local supercharger when the battery fill-up needs over 40 kWh in a single shot). Much of this relative comfort is a direct result of using the grid as a 2-way street. We don't just take power . . . we MAKE power. This has given us, (and anyone else smart enough to get it) a nearly equal footing to big power plants (usually dirty), and as such we are creators of our own clean power, not just consumers. As energy producers we are permitted to bank our extra clean power with our electric company, which is so happy to take it on the cheap when they need it, and we barter power back from them when we need it; a fair transfer of “power” for both of us. We reduce costs from building dirty plants, taking dirty plants off the grid temporarily, or even forever, in no short terms, helping with buffering and stabilizing the grid and it's costs for all.
Will it save us from a South Coast Texas-sized grid failure? Aside from the off grid survivalist diehards, the answer is definitely a No. But conclusively, it makes the grid stronger. Each of us kicking back when we can. Taking only when we need electricity beyond our own production.
More for all is better for all I think. Use less or make more. Words to live by.
Start small here at VaraUSA. Whether you are on the west or east coast, consider a solar pool heater. Jeff is installing these electric and methane consumption reducers right now in the San Francisco area, and can schedule a spring/summer install on the east coast! A DIY-er can get a solar starter kit, or simply buy a few LED low watt bulb replacements. An advanced energy activist can work up the energy tree, picking higher fruit, like dumping nasty methane appliances (and their indoor pollution). One by one with VaraUSA, I've eliminated nearly all of those nasty methane home appliances. You might even consider an electric vehicle/solar pv system with a fast charger integrated right in. You can still take advantage of the 26% federal incentive, along with federal and state incentives to buy an EV!
Until next go. Don't wait for a minute -- Power Forward!