The federal EPA and electric utility planners in Washington and in Oregon estimate that the Pacific Northwest will see reduced snowpack and increased wildfires in the coming years. Reduced snowpack means less dependable water for hydropower reliability. Less snowpack also makes wildfires more likely, which endanger the transmission lines that cross the region to get power from large, rural dams to the towns and cities that need the power. We need solar to supplement our hydropower.
Solar also helps stabilize our energy prices now and into the future. An average solar panel has dropped almost 60% in price over the past 5 years, and the trend is continuing. After solar’s up-front purchase, it has extremely low maintenance costs for your home or business, and your fuel — the sunshine — is free. By contrast, prices for coal and natural gas, which do power some of the Northwest, can swing substantially. To hedge themselves from these fuel uncertainties, utilities must invest millions of dollars in financial instruments, but solar doesn’t need that kind of “fuel insurance.” Utilities and their customers save money with solar.
There’s safety in diversity: solar installations on homes and businesses distributed across the Northwest means that a local weather event (or anything else) won’t disrupt more than small amount of the grid. By contrast, if a large dam or coal-fired power plant is disrupted, hundreds of thousands of people can be affected. The Union of Concerned Scientists cites the example of Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast:
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy damaged fossil fuel-dominated electric generation and distribution systems in New York and New Jersey and left millions of people without power. In contrast, renewable energy projects in the Northeast weathered Hurricane Sandy with minimal damage or disruption.
Disruptions include the increasing extreme weather and wildfires from climate change, seismic activity along the Cascadian Subduction Zone, and even cyber and terror attacks on the software and infrastructure that manages our dams and large power plants. Distributed across the region, solar is a safe, stable way to power our grid, through both normal days and extreme events.
Help keep Washington #SolarStrong by signing this petition by the Solar Installers of Washington!
Washington is home to 128 small businesses that manufacture or install solar components. Collectively, they support 3,700 jobs in our state.
Solar is a key solution to climate change, replacing polluting sources of electricity to power homes, businesses, and a growing use of electric cars, buses, and trains.