Can Solar Help Californians Bridge the Generation Gap?

REC Solar in California

With above-normal summer temperatures and Southern California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station still offline for repair, California’s utilities and grid operators are closely monitoring peak electrical demand and supplies, and have asked customers to reduce electricity usage especially in the afternoon, when air conditioning typically ramps up demand.

Such conditions are perhaps a test for California’s Independent System Operator (CAISO), which manages 80% of the state’s electric grid, and utilities, who will contend with aged infrastructure and the retirement by 2020 of more than 12,000 megawatts of existing generation facilities, rendered obsolete by time, changed market conditions, or government mandate.

As a result, the CAISO has projected a shortfall of electrical generating capacity of 3,500 megawatts as early as 2017, even with significant amounts of large-scale solar, wind, and other renewables coming online in the next eighteen months, and planned construction of conventional generation facilities.

Homeowners and businesses throughout California can insulate themselves now from higher electricity costs and potential brownouts by installing on-site solar systems to cut their peak demand and reduce or eliminate electric bills.

REC Solar has installed more than 8,500 such systems nationwide, with most in 2012 requiring little or no money down.

9/7 UPDATE: According to Vote Solar and the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), solar did indeed provide record-breaking amounts of electricity to the grid on August 14th, subsequent to the issuance of a ‘flex alert’ notifying Californians to immediately conserve electricity or face brownouts.

According to the CAISO: “California surpassed a major milestone during a recent heat wave that hit the sun-soaked state. More than 1,000 megawatts of solar power generation—equal to the size of two large gas-fired power plants—set new U.S. records twice in recent weeks.”

Solar Graph

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