Why Go Solar Before Summer?
April 18, 2019
One thing Texas homeowners understand about summer is that when it comes to their electric bill, “heat” is a four letter word. This summer looks like it could see higher Texas electricity rate prices and headaches.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting another sweltering Texas summer with temperatures above average from August to October. While that may not sound all that unusual, Texans know all too well that as hot weather drives up the demand for electricity, those electricity prices get higher.
Sagging Under the Sun
The more power that goes through a power line, the hotter it gets. On a hot day with high demand, power lines sag, stretch, and break — causing power outages that affect entire regions of the state. To prevent this, ERCOT can restrict the amount of electricity being transmitted over power lines. However, when a generator’s power output must wait to be transmitted, the generator is paid a “congestion rent” which is added to the total price of the electricity. That congestion rent can add millions of dollars to the annual price of Texas electricity. One power line in north Texas topped $67.5 million in congestion rent alone in 2017.
This Summer’s Texas-Sized Energy Crisis
Already, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is warning Texas electricity consumers that “high demand and tight reserves may result in energy alerts this summer“. ERCOT is forecasting a total generation capacity of 78,154 MW but is facing a peak demand of 74,853 MW. That leaves only 7.4% of generation capacity in reserve — just 3,301 MW.
As long as reserves stay above 3,000 MW, grid conditions are “normal”. Once reserve falls below that, ERCOT’s Energy Emergency protocols take over. If reserves fall below 1,750 MW, ERCOT will order TDUs to reduce load by using blackouts.
So, it’s no surprise that Texas electricity rates could be even more volatile this summer than last year. The question is, how much will electricity consumers be forced to pay during the hottest time of the year?
Go Solar Now!
That’s why this year, going solar now before summer is such a great idea. Homeowners who install solar with a grid tie can avoid being gouged by spiking Texas electricity rates — especially if they also lock in a low fixed-rate electricity plan now. Not only are solar panels cheap, but this year marks the last chance for consumers to get a 30% tax credit. They may also be able to limit the effect of power interruptions to their homes with a few deep cycle batteries. Plus, solar panels even help keep your home cooler by up to 5°F by shading your roof. That’s a 38% reduction to your home’s annual cooling load.
Save Energy, Save Money, Save the Grid
Residential solar lowers your home’s energy reliance on ERCOT’s grid. Not only does that cut back your electric bill and save you money but it also helps stabilize the grid to ensure that other folks in your community will still receive power. Sure, with the average home solar array size of 6 kW, one homeowner might not make a big impact on rates or reliability. But consider that this summer, 1% of the peak demand forecast equals 781.54 MW. Not having that 1% could cause rolling blackouts in Dallas or Houston. Yet ALL of that load can be met by 135,000 solar powered homes. Yes, that sounds like an incredible number of homes — but there’s already an estimated 210,000 solar powered homes in Texas. When you go solar, you’re joining your neighbors who are already making a real impact on how helping your community and the environment.
Going solar before summer means that not only can you save money on your Texas electricity but you might also help keep the lights on for your community when summer really gets hot!
Vernon Trollinger has been writing for nearly a decade in the Texas consumer energy sector. Although fascinated by meteorology and the Texas electricity market, he focuses mainly on home energy efficiency, DIY home improvement projects, and renewable energy. He currently writes for Texas Electricity Ratings.