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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Looking at the Big Picture: What’s the Future of Solar PV?

[Published Dec. 18, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section as a sidebar to "You Don't Need a Suitable Roof to Benefit from Solar Power"]

Solar-powered electricity has become so affordable now that utilities are (1) beginning to build utility scale installations, especially in desert areas of the country, (2) asking their regulators to eliminate or reduce their once generous incentive programs, and (3) proposing to make customers with solar PV pay for their use of the electrical grid.

Grid-connected PV systems save customers the cost of battery storage. During the day, when solar panels create more kilowatts of power than is needed, that power is pushed into the grid where it is used by other customers. The electric meter actually runs backward. After dark, the flow is reversed.

I like to say that “the grid is my battery.” If I didn’t have a net meter I’d have to invest in large batteries to store that power. Maybe I should pay for the grid.

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