Even as energy companies are going solar, it’s still better financially and practically for customers to have their own solar systems.
Maybe you’ve seen it on the news… Energy Company X just put up a new solar farm! Utility Y just doubled their solar! You may think, wow, that’s great! If the utilities are going green then I don’t have to. They are making clean green energy that I can just buy from them.
Well, yes and no…
Here are 5 reasons why you should still consider going solar.
- Headlines can be misleading. Recently, a local utility boasted that it had “doubled its solar production.” That sounds wonderful! Indeed, it’s a step in the right direction. But when you dig a little deeper you’ll see that this particular energy company went from 2% energy produced from solar to 4%. If you care about creating a more sustainable planet, that’s got to be a bit of a disappointment. The Paris Climate Agreement challenges the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. With these kinds of numbers, it may take us homeowners stepping up and stepping out to make real change happen.
- Costs are passed on to the customer. So your utility company put in a brand-new solar farm? Great, now you don’t have to! Except you’ll be paying for it anyway. You see, the way utilities justify their rates is by looking at expenditures—sourcing the fuel, creating the energy, distributing the energy, maintaining the grid, expanding the grid into new neighborhoods, and upgrading the grid with new infrastructure (like that solar farm). When their costs go up, their rates go up along with them. You’ll be paying for their new solar farm for the next 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. And there’s not much you can do about that, because…
- Utilities are a monopoly. There’s no free market when it comes to energy. One residence has one power line that belongs to one company, and you’re going to pay them what they tell you to. Yes, the industry is regulated, but that doesn’t stop rates from going up and up and up. And they will continue to do so because of #2 above. When you make your own power, however, you are exercising your freedom to choose another option.
- Buying is better than renting. When it comes to a home, most financial advisors will tell you it’s better to buy than rent. Why? Because when you buy, it’s an investment. You are building equity in your home. It’s the same with energy. When you pay your electric bill, you are “renting” the utility’s power-generating infrastructure. When you go solar, you purchase a power-generating infrastructure and put it on your roof. It’s yours, its cost goes down over time rather than up, and it not only makes power for you, but also increases the value of your home.
- Going solar helps your community. When you generate extra power with your solar system, it doesn’t travel all the way back to the grid and get stored in a big battery like you might imagine. It goes out right away to your neighbors. This is more efficient, because the farther electricity has to travel, the more is wasted (this is called “line loss”). Solar systems help make energy distribution more efficient and they also help ensure energy is abundant when needed. Utility companies often struggle to meet energy demands during peak hours, and doing so is costly. When you have multiple homes generating and distributing electricity, it lessens the burden on the grid and reduces costs, and it’s those who have chosen to make their own energy who benefit the most.