Solar Companies See Increased Demand For Battery Storage With PG&E Power Outages

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – There is increasing demand for a device designed to maintain power during PG&E outages.

Local solar energy companies are reporting a resurgence of interest in solar panels and power banks.

When the grid goes down during a power outage, so do solar systems. Unless a homeowner has some extra technology, they won’t have a chance or a light.

RELATED: PG&E Says 95% of Customers Have Been Restored After Outages

Based in San Francisco Sunrun To Light box– a device that reserves energy for later use. It is charged by a connected solar system.

“In the morning what happens is their solar system will start recharging their battery,” Chris Sears, senior manager of Sunrun field sales, told ABC7 News. “So the next day, if this blackout continues, they can also work the next night. “

Most solar companies offer something similar. These power banks are in high demand now, as PG&E power outages are expected to be the new normal.

“We actually had several hundred homes that were able to power all of these events,” Sears explained. “And keep their lights and televisions and refrigerators on. “

Sears told ABC7 News that only solar goes out with the grid for safety.

“This is done to prevent this energy from being sent back to the grid and electrocuting a worker.”

About the Brightbox storage system, Sears said it was inundated with calls from consumers.

“Locally, we were more interested in Brightbox, our battery storage system, as we fix these outages,” he explained.

Sears said the amount of electricity booked depends on the customer and their energy use.

“We back up the main sources in their home,” Sears said. “So they can keep their refrigerator on, keep their lights on, keep the TV on for the kids and really power the blackout.” “

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Sears said the outages show customers are vulnerable to the network they are connected to. He said the solar power industry is trying to remedy this.

When asked about the process of installing solar panel systems, Sears explained, “It all depends on the area in which they live. Some construction services in cities take longer than others.

He said the process was different across the South Bay because he described the city of San Jose as “very pro-solar.”

Sears said Sunrun has worked with San José’s clean energy to implement projects. With help, Sears said the installation could take between 30 and 90 days.

Under another provider, resident Dennis Taylor said he and his wife switched to battery storage about a year and a half ago.

“We were offered the option,” he described. “As we are here in a sort of remote area on the hillside and have more frequent power outages, we thought it would be a good idea to have the battery storage to meet our needs during these power outages = blackout. “

They live in a remote area in the eastern foothills of San Jose. The recent blackouts should have left the Taylors in the dark. He was hit by two blackouts.

“Last time we did it all night. The lights, fridge, freezer and everything were on all night until the sun came up in the morning and then the solar power came back on,” Taylor explained.

“So we were basically 24 hours off the grid. That was great.”

Taylor’s 31 rooftop solar panels are starting to be the norm for many neighbors. Some sat in the dark, while Taylor reveled in a reserved energy.

He said his system gives him peace of mind.

“That way I don’t have to drive around the valley as often,” he said. “I can stay here without worrying about things going wrong in the fridge or it’s getting too cold.”

“On average, throughout the year, our system pays almost all of our electricity bill,” Taylor added. “We pay for gas of course, and maybe just a little bit for electricity if I use a lot of power tools and so on. “

He continued, “More and more people are installing it all the time. I think it’s the future to stay off the network when necessary.”

For the latest stories on the PG&E public safety power outage, click here.

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