News & Opinions
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Utility Companies are About to Catch up to Cars and Cabins
Dan Morrison / BUILDER / January 6, 2014
SolarCity, the nation’s largest PV installer, has another good idea: use batteries to store the power. Just like the golf cart batteries that stored energy from the little PV panel I had on the roof of my old cabin in western Montana—and the big battery under the hood of a shiny new Tesla—SolarCity is providing batteries to some of its largest commercial utility customers so they can fuel their power needs when peak demand does not match the sun’s output, like late in the day. OK, they are not just like the golf cart batteries in my old cabin, but they are just like the Tesla batteries. In fact, Tesla provides the batteries, and Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, also is the chairman of SolarCity.
Rather than crank up a coal, nuclear, or trash-burning power plant to energize the grid for peak hours, the power companies within Northeast Utilities and Pacific Gas and Electric will be able to pull from the same batteries as seen under the hood of the solar sports car.
Why I Think This Is Cool
This move brings us one step closer to cars and PV panels working together to generate and store power for houses. And when power is generated on American rooftops and stored in the batteries that power the cars, then our country will be more energy self-sufficient, economically healthy, and environmentally tidy.
Power outages during snowstorms will be much less of a hassle, too.
When cars begin to drive themselves—six years from today—builders will have much more land available to them because a two-hour commute will be able to be used to prepare for morning presentations or answer email in the evening. “Drive till you qualify” just may have became a more feasible strategy. Again.
Dan is Editorial Director for the BUILDER Group at Hanley Wood.