ESTABLISHING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE UNDER NEM 3.0
Is it worth going solar under the new NEM 3.0 tariff? The resounding answer is “Yes!” By embracing solar power, you can achieve energy independence, steer clear of the ever-increasing costs of utility electricity, and save substantial amounts of money for years to come. The implementation of the net billing program should not deter you from taking the leap towards solar energy. NEM 3.0 has been specifically crafted to incentivize homeowners to generate and store their own energy through solar and battery backup systems. This approach reduces reliance on utility companies, thereby alleviating strain on the grid. Furthermore, by becoming self-sufficient, homeowners can minimize the impact of various scenarios such as power outages due to downed lines, unexpected or mandatory shutoffs, and scheduled repairs or maintenance. Thus, opting for solar power paired with a battery is a prudent choice, providing long-term benefits and ensuring consistent access to electricity for your home.
However, the implementation of NEM 3.0 has had a profound impact on the solar industry, affecting both businesses and consumers. One of the major concerns raised by industry stakeholders is the diminished savings potential compared to NEM 2.0. Under the new tariff, prominent California utility companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric have significantly reduced the export rate by 75%. This reduction pertains to the compensation value for excess electricity fed into the grid through solar power systems. To overcome this challenge, consumers need to shift their perspective from solely focusing on “saving money” on monthly electricity bills to embracing the concept of becoming “energy independent.”
The Strain on the Utility Companies
The strain on utility companies is another crucial factor to consider. Aging infrastructure built decades ago is a pressing concern for all utility companies, necessitating continuous repairs and maintenance. In addition, the imperative to combat global warming through green initiatives calls for extensive infrastructure updates across the country. The demand for electricity is projected to surge exponentially as gas-powered products are replaced by electric motors, a realization already being administered by the automotive industry. As more car manufacturers produce electric vehicles (EVs) that require constant charging, the strain on the grid intensifies. These issues contribute to higher energy prices, which directly impact average consumers.
So, what can be done to mitigate the burden of skyrocketing electricity prices? One approach is to reduce consumption, particularly during peak times when electricity prices are at their highest. Unfortunately, this may not be feasible for many individuals who wish to maintain their current lifestyle. The alternative solution, as mentioned earlier, is to decrease reliance on the utility company for power. This can be achieved through the adoption of a solar and battery system, enabling homeowners to harness the sun’s power to generate their electricity and store excess energy for use during critical periods.
Optimizing savings entails significantly minimizing power usage between 4 pm and 9 pm, regardless of whether a solar and battery system is in place. Utility companies actively encourage consumers to alleviate strain on the energy grid during these peak hours, which coincide with exorbitant electricity prices. This necessitates a shift in energy consumption habits, such as adjusting the timing of activities like laundry, vacuuming, or charging EVs. It may also involve reprogramming timers for energy-intensive appliances like pool pumps and cooling the house before peak hours.
Under the new NEM 3.0 net billing system, it is crucial to store excess energy produced by a solar power system rather than selling it back to the utility companies at their extreme lower rates. This underscores the importance of coupling a solar system with home batteries. Batteries enable the utilization of stored energy during nighttime (and other times when solar isn’t producing any power), offering homeowners the opportunity to meet their typical daily power requirements without relying on additional power purchases from the utility company. However, it’s essential to note that the storage capacity of a battery and its ability to power a home over a given time period depend on the appliances being powered.
On average, a properly sized battery system should be capable of sustaining power for lights, televisions, computers, appliances, and more. However, excessive usage on days when all lights are on, the AC is running at full blast, and multiple appliances like washers, dryers, and vacuums are used simultaneously can deplete the stored energy within minutes, necessitating the purchase of additional electricity from the utility company. Being mindful of the battery’s capacity will help save money and prevent the frustration of unexpected energy expenses.
If you are considering alternative energy options like solar power, it’s important to note that it requires more involvement than simply determining your energy consumption. Previously, solar installers could calculate the appropriate solar panel system size based on the past 12 months of bills to determine the total annual kWh usage. However, with the advent of NEM 3.0, a deeper dive into when electricity is being utilized is just as critical.
Green Button Data
Accessing your Green Button data provides valuable insights into your energy usage patterns. Utility companies like Edison allow you to download and share your energy data, providing a detailed breakdown of your consumption at 15-minute intervals. This empowers you to make informed decisions about your energy usage and implement strategies to save energy and reduce costs.
However, analyzing 15-minute increments over the course of 24 hours, multiplied by 365 days in a year, can be overwhelming. That’s why you have the option to share this data directly with your solar installer. They can utilize the information to generate a summary that presents your usage averaged out over a year and across the four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. A reputable installer will leverage this data to recommend the appropriate size of the solar system and the necessary battery storage to offset your energy bills. By incorporating Green Button data, the accuracy of designing a solar/battery system is significantly enhanced compared to relying solely on a year’s worth of energy usage.
Furthermore, it’s important to inform your installer about potential future changes in your energy consumption. This could include plans to purchase an electric vehicle, expanding your home with an ADU, having more people at home, or working remotely. These factors add to the overall energy load requirement. By considering these future usage changes, you can future-proof your energy system and reduce the likelihood of needing to purchase additional power from the utility company.
Combining a solar power system with a battery, along with disciplined electricity usage habits, you can achieve significant long-term savings. If you are ready to explore solar energy, feel free to contact us at 951.338.8060. Our consultants are available to guide you through your specific needs and provide the best possible solar/battery system solution.
At Solar Power Supply, we firmly believe that achieving energy independence ultimately leads to substantial savings, aligning with the significant cost benefits associated with solar power under past net metering programs.