Institute for Energy Economics
and Financial Analysis
Karl Cates and David Schlissel –
The utility and fossil-fuel industries continue to spread a crude canard against the growing popularity of rooftop solar across America.
The lie goes something like this: Households and business that install photovoltaic panels are doing so at the expense of other electricity ratepayers because they are “subsidized” by those that don’t have solar panels.
The truth is this: Rooftop solar provides substantial benefits for everyone, regardless of who installs it. It helps power the homes and shops that adopt it, to be sure, but it has far-reaching benefits for other customers as well. If Jane Doe in Anywhere, USA, puts a solar panel on her roof, every other electricity ratepayer within the footprint of whatever regional grid Jane Doe is tied into will benefit as well.
Honest purveyors of utility-industry fact know this, of course, and say it quite often. So, more and more, does Wall Street. No less a titan than Sanford Bernstein & Co., one of the perennially best-rated firms in Institutional Investor’s annual rankings of investment researchers, has studied the issue deeply over the past couple of years and comes away with an unequivocal take on the issue: Rooftop solar, aka photovoltaic solar, means lower peak-hour energy prices for all.
Bernstein lays out the supporting research in a reported published last month that found that the rapid increase in the amount of solar PV available on the electricity grid in California—a seven-fold expansion in only four years, from 0.7 gigawatts in 2010 to 4.8 GW in 2014— had helped reduce system loads so much that peak prices were put off until later in the day, when demand was lower. Lower demand means lower prices.
That report went on to predict that the effect will be amplified inevitably across the state as growth in solar capacity continues. This will probably reduce the value of incremental additions of solar capacity on the California grid, but that’s not the point. The overarching conclusion is that all power consumers in California benefit from lower afternoon power prices, not just those that have rooftop solar PV panels. Continue to full article. To view full article.