VACAVILLE (CBS13) – The Public Safety Power Shutoffs have neighbors seeking power alternatives so they’re not in the dark the next time a shutoff happens.
That’s true in Solano County where the power is on, and solar is in style. The phone is ringing off the hook at Right Now Air in Vacaville. Without power, the calls to convert solar are up.
General Manager, Jason Grant, said, “This is now a reality, it’s something new, and something that’s going to continue on.”
During the outages, Grant says some panicked neighbors called, worried about life-threatening emergencies.
“Half of the city was shut off. What’s really important is the people who have medical needs that are on oxygen, or maybe they have a dialysis machine,” he said.
But he had to share the truth about a common misconception about how solar panels work.
“Solar does not work during a PG&E shut down,” said Grant.
Solar is still “on the grid” and the only way it works is with a backup battery.
“During a power outage it will charge it up, and you feed off your battery,” said Grant.
Ken Scrivens lives off of a rural road and had solar installed months ago. He says the shutoffs were his motivation.
“I’m more about wanting to be ready,” Scrivens said. “I have solar, what I don’t have is a backup battery, and that’s another item that perhaps should be thought about, based on all that is happening with PG&E, solar is the way to go.”
To install solar so that it is fully able to function during a shutoff, you’ll need a permanent generator, a backup battery, and solar panels. A standby, or permanent generator, will cost you between $9,000 and $20,000, depending on your home. A battery can cost, on average, $10,000. Solar panels will normally start off at $12,000 to install.