October 19, 2015

SunPower's Solar Secret to Success: "Being a Good Citizen to the Grid"

As solar energy becomes more and more popular, many raise questions about our aging utility grid and how we will be able to maintain it. Utility companies use a good portion of their profits to simply maintain your local electric grid. And, in recent years, they’ve hiked up their prices dramatically, citing an increasing necessity for extra revenue to update the nation’s worn-out electrical infrastructure.

Ironically, it is this same price jump that’s inspiring so many homeowners in the Santa Clarita area, and the country at large, to install solar panels. So what does that mean for the future of our electric grid?

SunPower Solar and the grid

Homes equipped with solar still need to be

connected to the grid, allowing homeowners access to reliable electricity even after the sun goes down. This means a healthy and updated utility grid is still a very necessary part of American society and the population’s rapid switch to solar could make it even harder to maintain.

Luckily for us, caring solar providers like our partner, SunPower solar, and clean energy economists like Clean Power Finance CEO, Nat Kreamer, understand the importance of a healthy grid system.

At the recent 2015 Solar Power International (SPI) Conference, Kreamer stated, “Solar now supplies about 1% of U.S. electricity, but as growth eventually takes it to 20% grid penetration, solar power producers must learn to be good citizens of the grid” (1).

But, what does Kreamer mean when he says a “good citizen to the grid”?

Howard Wenger, Business Units President for SunPower solar, defines it as the partnership and camaraderie between solar and utilities companies. And, according to Wenger, SunPower has “always regarded utilities as our partners and the grid as important. Utilities are entitled to fair compensation for delivering a reliable network. That is in everyone’s best interest” (1).

SunPower outperforms.

Wenger and the SunPower team credit these strong relationships as the reason for their success, aside from their solar panels’ high efficiencies and industry-leading 25-year warranties. The largest part of these solar-utility partnerships is working together on “community solar” projects (1).

This includes SunPower’s latest achievement of finishing “the 747 MW” utility-scale solar energy system “four months ahead of schedule (1). This project was in partnership with utility Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables (1). Though SunPower lacks more specific community solar plans at the moment, moving forward the company plans to expand their partnerships with local and national utility companies with a mission to enhance the US power grid with the help of their top-of-the-line solar technology (1).

Some utility companies are still resistant to the idea of working with solar companies to improve and advance their services. But as interest and demand for clean and affordable solar energy continues to grow, everyone from SoCal Edison to LADWP is going to be forced to take a chance on solar and who better to do it with than a company like SunPower.




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