When the Texas power grid went down in February, 2021, over 5 million people were without power for three or more days. Residents in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth and all parts in between suffered in the cold, as their pipes burst. Empty grocery store shelves, people struggling to charge medical devices and impassable roads contributed to a second wave of the disaster. During this time, some people in charge blamed solar and other green tech (in part) for the blackout. We want to help homeowners in Texas sort out the facts from the fiction.
Myth #1: Solar power caused the blackouts.
Not the case. Actually, green energy only contributes about 6-7% of Texas power. The problem was a lack of weatherization and equipment freezing. Windmills and solar farms function without issue in Canada and Sweden and many other cold and snowy locations.
Myth #2: Solar is expensive.
Not anymore! Solar has become much more affordable. The price of panels have plummeted over the last decades. And right now, Texas homeowners can qualify for a federal solar investment tax credit, which covers 26% of the final purchase price of the home solar system. Starting in 2023, the solar tax credit will step down to 22%, and after 2024, the tax credit for home solar ends. We recommend contacting a tax professional to most accurately determine the impact of the federal solar tax credit and local tax credits on your taxes.
Myth #3: Solar energy won’t help at night.
This is partially true. If your solar is tied into your grid, your evening power consumption isn’t coming from the array. However, new and exciting battery (storage) solutions are coming into the marketplace every year. The Enphase Encharge™ storage system is among the safest backup batteries around. The SolarEdge StorEdge DC-coupled solution is powered by a single inverter and offers high energy production. Sonnen’s new sonnenCore emergency backup power system is compact.
Tesla Powerwalls give users the ability to schedule their power usage, so during the evenings, you run off the batteries and during the days, off the panels. Generac has gotten into the storage business and offers an EcoGen that has the added benefit of being a generator so you can power your system with solar or gas. More power options help in a crisis like the one Texans experienced February 2021. A solar installation company can help you choose which battery storage option makes the most sense for your household needs.
Myth #4: If everyone had solar, we wouldn’t have had a problem in Texas.
Not really. We aren’t quite ready yet to abandon public utilities. Even as good as battery storage technology has gotten, our energy needs far exceed what a typical array can generate in a day.
If more homes had solar it would reduce the load on the grid by having a distributed resource, closer to the loads, rather than a from centralized power plants. Solar + Storage can provide backup power to critical loads during a power outage. A solar professional can evaluate your electricity usage and help you identify critical loads that would be needed in the event of a power outage. This typically includes lights, refrigerators, freezers, TV, computers and well pumps if you live in a rural area. It’s not practical to heat your home with solar PV, but it could run the fan and controls for a gas furnace. Proper system sizing is important to having power when you need it. Talk with your local solar professional and explore the options.