Our most recent hurricane season saw the return of a sadly familiar story, as Puerto Rico and Florida each got hammered by hurricanes Fiona and Ian. But one bright spot helped residents recover sooner: Solar-powered homes withstood the storms without disruption of power.
Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, laments, "I wish we never had to have this proof point," but the storms did help prove that solar energy combined with battery storage helps to keep the lights on. In fact, neighbors around the solar-powered homes found themselves borrowing electricity from the owners of solar-powered homes, after their gas-powered generators ran out of fuel.
Learn how you can storm-proof your home's energy system!
A Lesson Learned in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico was hurt badly by hurricane Maria several years ago, which left much of the island territory without power for up to eleven months. Since then, homeowners have taken to installing solar panels plus storage batteries, with around 50,000 solar and battery power systems installed on homes there. When the more recent hurricane Fiona hit, those solar-powered homes again enjoyed the lights staying on while the rest of the island went dark.
Energy independence has been a rallying cause in Puerto Rico in recent years. Currently, the island depends entirely upon imported fossil fuels, which make the power utility bills there outrageous. The island territory has recently committed to an overhaul of its power infrastructure, with the goal of 100% renewable power sources by this coming mid-century.
Babcock Ranch, Florida : The All-Solar Town
Babcock Ranch in Florida is a small town which was specifically engineered as a more storm-proof community. Powered entirely by solar energy, the town boasts nearly 700,000 solar panels that supply electricity to more than 2,000 homes and other buildings. Additional storm-mitigation tactics have been enacted, such as buried power lines to remove the risk of wind damage, and wind-resistant buildings. It's a planned community designed from square one to be environmentally friendly and energy-saving.
Not only did the town of Babcock withstand the recent hurricane, but its power grid was completely undisturbed. The residents there opted not to evacuate, and while one resident reports that it was a little scary, the town's fortifications reduced a hurricane to a mere temporary inconvenience.
Fortify your home with solar panels and a battery storage system!
Being Energy Self-Sufficient Comes in Handy!
You don't have to be in hurricane territory to experience a black-out. Storms, floods, and other climate disturbances knock out power on a regular basis, from blizzards, derechos, tornadoes, and even high winds. Even without storms, power outages are a common enough occurrence due to fragile infrastructure and poor urban planning. Texas is one state notorious for power outages, due to extreme weather events and a power grid lacking fortification.
How fragile is a power grid when it can be knocked out by a playful raccoon?
While "living off-grid" is not the end goal for most homeowners who go solar, being self-sufficient in energy production is a definite bonus during those times when the utility grid fails us. As time wears on and utility infrastructure ages while extreme climate events get worse, more homeowners who go solar will be grateful for their self-sufficient power generation - and maybe even extend a power strip to help their less-prepared neighbors.