Whether you have a solar array in your yard or on your roof, the use of solar power at your home
brings security through greater energy and grid independence.

What is grid dependence?

To understand grid independence, we must first understand what it means to be grid dependent. Grid dependence is when someone relies on energy from our utility grid, which utilizes a number of limited resources such as natural gas, coal, hydroelectric and nuclear sources. When the demand is high and the supply of fossil fuels is low, customers are subject to rate hikes in their energy bills and end up having to pay much more for energy when they may not expect it.

What is grid independence?

Grid independence, for a homeowner, is achieved by having your own form of energy generation–this could be energy from solar, wind, water, geothermal, etc. It means that you are creating energy from your own resources. When you are grid independent, you are protected from the rising prices of energy from the utility companies. If you are grid independent because of solar panels, the solar panels are producing enough energy to power everything in your home. 

Grid independence in New York

If energy independence was a spectrum, most people that have solar panels in New York (NY) would fall closer to the energy independence end, but are typically still grid-tied. This is primarily due to the benefits that come along with remaining connected to the grid, albeit in a more limited capacity. For example, key financial incentives for solar in NY currently require customers to remain grid-tied, therefore making ‘off-grid’ systems much less economically appealing.

Although still connected to the grid, many solar customers are much closer to grid independence because their solar panels produce enough energy to cover all of their homes’ electric needs, and they are not reliant on the energy that is being produced by the electric grid.

A policy in NY called ‘net metering’ adds to the benefit of remaining connected to the grid infrastructure in a limited capacity. When it’s sunny, your array will produce more energy, oftentimes, than what you need to power your home. With net metering, the utility companies are required to credit your utility bill for the excess energy that was sent to the grid during times of overproduction. You can then use these credits during the months where your system doesn’t produce as much energy (i.e. winter) and your home is using power from the grid. Although you may need the energy from the grid during months with less sun, you can still keep your home powered and your electric bill low, or at $0, year-round thanks to net metering.

Energy independence and battery storage

Homeowners that want to further their independence from the utility grid often utilize battery storage backup with their solar arrays. This allows solar customers to keep the lights on during grid outages. While it is possible to support 100% of your home’s energy consumption while the grid is down, each situation will differ depending on the devices you’d like to power, the length of time you are powering the devices, and the size of your battery storage.

Take the next step towards energy independence

According to the EIA, New York is the fourth most populated state and New York City is the most populated city in the US. What many people don’t realize is that 90% of New York State is rural. Because New York City requires so much energy, it’s tough for NYS to produce enough energy to power the whole state. We often have to rely on energy supplies from other states to keep things powered.

The more people and businesses that install solar, the more independent New York can be from other states’ energy.

Interested in becoming energy independent?

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