Seven months after the workers finished installing the solar panels at the Garcia family home near Stanford University, the system is much larger than the ceiling. The problem is that the appliances are overloaded and the panels produce no electricity.
“We spent $ 30,000 on a system we didn’t use,” says Theresa Garcia. “It was just so frustrating.”
Lawmakers and regulators are pushing for President Biden to remove the United States from fossil fuels and prevent the effects of climate change. But his ambitious goals have made it difficult for homeowners, local governments and businesses to use solar panels, batteries, electric cars, heat pumps and other greenhouse gas emissions with the use of outdated transformers and outdated power lines.
Most of the equipment on the power grid was built decades ago and needs to be upgraded. For a world where electricity flows in one direction – from the network to the people. Now, homes and businesses are supplying solar panels from their roofs to grid power.
These problems have become even more acute because the quickest way to cut off greenhouse gas emissions is to switch to oil, gas, nuclear and other zero-emission sources that currently run on oil and gas. However, energy experts say that the grid is far from being able to withstand all the effects of climate change.
Michael Johnston, director general of the National Electric Contractors Association’s Code and Standards, said: “It’s a very strong hurricane as long as it meets our needs.” “This is not a small problem.”
A year ago, García and her husband, Quinn, bought their home in the Portola Valley. The 37-year-old biotech lawyer and her husband, Venture Capitalist, have invested in solar because they want to do their part to fight climate change.
Garcia is not a pioneer. According to the California Solar and Storage Association, one in 10 consumers in the state has solar energy.
So Garcías was surprised when they were denied access to their services, Pacific gas and electricity so that they could make full use of the panels.
The problem is that during sunny days, solar panels on the roof can generate more electricity than is used in neighborhoods. This can overload the electric transformers, which helps to control and direct the flow of electricity in the area, forcing it to shut down or explode. These problems can be avoided by installing more powerful transformers.
Barry Sinamon, CEO of Cinnamon Energy Systems, a company that installs panels on Garissa’s home, said such problems are common. “My experience and understanding of utility systems is that I can only wait until the neighborhood is overloaded and the transformer explodes,” Mr Sinamon said.
PG&E apologized for the delay in updating the transformer outside Garissa’s house and said it would take up to six months for workers to do so if they were overwhelmed by projects.
A.D. During a heat wave in August 2020, an old transformer exploded at an electrical substation in the center of San Jose, 25 miles from García. That darkened the homes of tens of thousands of people, some for days.
City Mayor Sam Licardo complained to PG&E that the company’s outdated equipment was hampering plans to increase the use of San Jose’s solar panels, electric cars and other new equipment. To achieve its climate goals, the city has previously banned the country’s largest local government from using natural gas in new buildings.
“It’s a failed infrastructure,” said Democrat Mr Likardo. “We are very powerful. The question is, will there be a ready grid when we get there?
Mark Esgera, Senior Director of PG&E Electrical Property Strategy, plans to upgrade many more equipment. After the collapse of San Jose last year, the company replaced 400 transformers in that city and its environs with a total of 62,000 in Santa Clara County. The company says it supports the use of solar panels for its 600,000 residential customers and 360,000 customers.
“We know our grid will look different in a few years,” Mr Isgera said.
How much and how fast?
The biggest challenge for policymakers and the consumer industry is to find out how fast to invest in a grid while maintaining its energy at an affordable price.
Hundreds of billions of dollars are needed to improve the country’s energy distribution network, said Ben Hertz Chargell, head of Grid Age, a research and consulting firm at Wood McKenzie. That does not include the cost of long-distance transmission lines and equipment such as solar and wind power.
Mr. Hartz-Shargel has personal experience with electrical network weaknesses. While he was recently charging his Tesla at his home in Long Island, the electrical wiring that connected the appliance to the house was so hot that it melted.
“I’m the only EV on my block and even that small amount of usage was enough to win the second level of grid in my house,” he said. “It shows how many weak links there are in the service distribution system.”
How much money utilities spend on their equipment depends on a complex process involving government regulators who need to approve the increase in electricity costs.
Abigail Anthony, Consumer Supervisor in Rhode Island, said Abigail Anthony, chair of the National Institutes of Health Association’s study committee, said state officials did not want to raise rates because it would hurt consumers and undermine public support for clean energy. Commissioners.
“The cars and heating system must not only be affordable, but also fuel, electricity, especially compared to oil, gas and natural gas,” she said.
Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online.
Consider the following example: If all 330,000 households in San Jose were to use gasoline and natural gas and switch to electric cars, heat pumps, electric heaters, and stoves, the city would triple its current electricity. Rebuilding a non-profit America that supports grid improvements and policies to combat climate change.
But the group argues that San Jose residents and businesses do not have to spend three times as much on electricity. This is because people can generate some electricity through the roof solar panels and store that energy in home batteries. You can install smart thermostats and appliances to use electricity at low cost, for example, Sam Calish, head of research at Reeving America.
Emily Fisher, senior vice president of pure energy at the Consumer Industry Business Group at Edison Electric, gave another example. Mr Biden wants about half of the new cars sold in the country by 2030. If all of these cars are plugged in on a high-energy day, utilities will have to spend a lot of money to upgrade. But if regulators allow more appliances to be offered at a lower nightly price, people will charge a car when there is too much surplus.
Some businesses are finding ways to rely less on grids when demand is high. Volkswagen, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, which operates the charging network, has installed large batteries to avoid charging utilities at some charging stations.
According to Robert Barrosa, Senior Director of Sales and Marketing at Electrifice America, the company may eventually be able to use resources when it has too much and when it does not have enough.
Finally, electrifying electric cars, heaters, stoves, and other appliances can save an average household $ 1,050 to $ 2,585 a year, says Reverting America. Those products are more energy efficient and the cost of electricity is lower than the price of oil, gasoline and natural gas. Electric cars and furniture are also cheap to repair.
“If done right, money can go to a more secure network, especially when climate change is a major concern,” said Mr. Kalish.