More Californians are looking to switch to solar after two of the state’s largest utility providers cut power to nearly a million of its customers with little to no warning on account of high winds — an incident which many experts warn will become more common.
“I suspect for the next few years these are going to occur,” said Severin Borenstein, faculty director of UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute to the LA Times. “No one involved in this thing thinks it was a one-time event.”
The outages ranged from Humbolt to Ventura county and in some cases, lasted up to 72 hours. Northern California was most heavily affected, with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) leaving an estimated 800,000 people without electricity.
“PG&E’s mismanagement of the power shutoffs experienced last week was unacceptable,” decried California Governor Gavin Newstrom following the event. “We will continue to hold PG&E accountable to make radical changes – prioritizing the safety of Californians and modernizing its equipment.”
Likewise, Southern California Edison (SCE) shut the power off for nearly 30,000 of its customers.
Following last year’s deadly fire season, during which a PG&E caused fire destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people, California has given utility companies unilateral control for deciding when to shut off the power.
Legislators intended utilities to use the provision as a last resort. However, many worry the utility companies are being overly aggressive with outages since they will bear full liability for any blaze that occurs from their equipment.
“Californians should not pay the price for decades of PG&E’s greed and neglect,” Governor Newsom said, going so far as to suggest that PG&E give $100 to each of the hundreds of thousands of customers who experienced blackouts.
Rather than wait for legislators to resolve the issue or cross their fingers and hope that utility companies will solve it for themselves, October saw an uptick in Californian homeowners wanting to take their power supply into their own hands and switch to solar.
The trend comes nearing the end of 2019 when a lucrative 30 percent Federal Incentive Tax Credit for going solar is scheduled to be massively reduced for the next two years until it expires.
Realizing that such power outages due to increasingly arid weather and higher than normal seasonal winds will become an annual occurrence, the homeowners switching to solar are hoping to get ahead of the problem.
“Utility companies might randomly shut down the grid, but if you have solar panels, inverters, and batteries to store the excesses energy, you create a microgrid for your home and no longer have to be caught living in uncertainty about whether or not the food in your fridge will spoil or you’ll be able to keep the lights on,” said CMO of GoGreenSolar Harold Tan.
GoGreenSolar assists people wanting to switch to solar every step of the way, whether they are doing it themselves, or looking to hire professionals to do the work. Coupled with federal and state incentives and historically low cost per megawatt of solar power, the company helps homeowners realize a net positive financial investment in transforming their home to solar. For many in California, the benefits of switching far outweigh the drawbacks of being left in the dark.