Rooftop Solar by the Numbers
Today’s electrical grid would look familiar to our grandparents. Large, centralized power plants still generate electricity, which is then transmitted over high-voltage power lines to substations and distributed to people’s homes. Technologies such as rooftop solar are poised to revolutionize how we generate energy, improving our environment and saving us all money.
According to a new study, co-authored by the National Resources Defense Council and SolarCity, rooftop solar generates over $7 million in benefits every year. That means that each new solar installation in the State lowers every Nevadan's energy bill.
Read on to learn more about how rooftop solar benefits all Nevadans, whether or not we have solar panels on our roofs.
Traditional energy generation works by burning fossil fuels like coal and natural gas to boil water and create steam. That steam turns a turbine, which produces energy.
Fossil fuels are expensive, dirty, and imported from out-of-state. Over the last decade, the price American electric utilities pay for natural gas has swung wildly, fluctuating by 425% in the last two years.
Solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity, which means predictable lower prices and less imported fuel from out-of-state, saving us all money.
Demand for electricity in Nevada grows as our population grows. We usually meet our growing demand by building new power plants. But power plants cost utility customers hundreds of millions of dollars.
By generating power when we need it most–on hot, sunny days—rooftop solar reduces the need for new power plants, saving us all money.
"Net metering — contra the Nevada decision — frequently benefits all ratepayers when all costs and benefits are accounted for, which is a finding state public utility commissions, or PUCs, need to take seriously."
Transmission and Distribution Capacity
Power plants are usually built far away from where people live and work, often out of state. We build expensive, inefficient power lines to carry the power into our neighborhoods. We then build expensive substations to convert the power into the kind we can use in our homes. This is called transmission and distribution.
By generating power where we need it most—in our communities—rooftop solar reduces the need to invest in transmission and distribution infrastructure, saving us all money.
Power lines are surprisingly inefficient, so 6.4% of all electricity gets lost between power plants and people’s homes – that’s $18 million in lost energy every year. These are called line losses. By generating electricity in our neighborhoods, rooftop solar energy has virtually no line losses, saving us all money.
"So what does the accumulating national literature on costs and benefits of net metering say? Increasingly it concludes— whether conducted by PUCs, national labs, or academics — that the economic benefits of net metering actually outweigh the costs and impose no significant cost increase for non-solar customers. Far from a net cost, net metering is in most cases a net benefit—for the utility and for non-solar rate-payers."
Ancillary Services and Voltage & Power Quality
We generate far more power than we need to make sure we don’t have shortfalls. Rooftop solar lets us better manage and control the grid, increasing efficiency and saving us all money.
Traditional power generation is incredibly dirty. Power plants are among our biggest polluters, causing asthma, heart attacks, and even cancer. These diseases are a burden on families, and are expensive to treat. Plus, new laws require Nevada to cut pollution from power plants or pay regulatory fees.
By generating pollution-free power, rooftop solar reduces pollution and helps keep our air clean, improving our health and saving us all money.