How can it be, that someone going solar to save themselves money, actually helps saves everyone money? There are several ways solar benefits everyone (cleaner air, clean jobs) but the least well understood may be how solar reduces expensive electric grid peaks..
- One major reason our electricity rates are high is because utilities get approval to build expensive transmission lines to meet electricity needs on peak summer days; this increases electric rates year-round.
- On these “peak days”, power companies must run the most expensive power plants—such as the oil-burning power plant on Cousin’s Island in Yarmouth— which charge very high rates for power during these times. They also pollute the most.
- Distributed solar power, on rooftops or in larger arrays, provides a powerful, proven, quantifiable way to reduce these costs for all electricity consumers.
- Maine’s existing solar installations save money for all ratepayers: $2.5 million/year plus environmental benefits and job creation.
- We can save even more if we move Maine forward on solar. If Maine had 250 MW of solar – the amount called for in last session’s solar bill, LD 1649 – ratepayers would save $30 million every year for 25 years, not including any of the tremendous environmental or job creation benefits.
- Over 25 years, 250 MW of solar would reduce the costs of transmission & distribution lines borne by all Maine ratepayers by $170 million.
- The electricity grid is a complicated thing, with a lot of big powerful players. But solar power is power from the people: the benefits from solar that we all share come from thousands of ordinary Mainers who invested in solar for their home or business.
Five things you might not know about solar power in Maine!
- The US installed 1,665 megawatts (1 MW = 1,000 kw) of solar in the first quarter, 2016, accounting for a whopping 64% of New Electric Capacity!
- There are now more than one million solar installations in the United States, and the industry is projected to nearly double in size in 2016
- Nearly 209,000 Americans work in solar, more than double the number who work in the coal industry. The solar workforce is growing by 30% or more each year, while the coal mining industry continues to decline.
- The cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70% over the last 10 years, driving the technology’s rapid growth and allowing it to compete with conventional fuels not just for environmental benefits, but also on price.
- Though Maine and New Hampshire’s solar resource is nearly identical to that of Massachusetts’s, the Bay State has roughly than 10x of the solar penetration of its neighbors to the north.