Using energy stored with solar panels, a few homeowners were able to go “off-grid”, proving how shared power can speed future storm recovery.
After Hurricane Irma hit, more than 40 percent of Florida’s residents lack electricity, and for some, may not see light for days or even weeks. Roughly 6.7 million residents in Florida including Georgia, North and South Carolina, are in risk of a power outage.
One resident named Pereira, installed rooftop solar panels and an inverter that allows him to use solar power without being connected to the grid. Fortunately he did made this wise decision a mere two weeks before Hurricane Irma hit. Pereira was able to wake up amidst the storm, use his appliances, with wifi allowing him to survive and sustain his at home IT consultant while his nearby neighbors waited for grid power to return.
Although this is an expected occurrence of a hurricane, homeowners like Pereira, some businesses, and even cities were able to leverage the sunshine state’s solar panel while the grid was down. A greater amount of rooftop solar arrays are connected to the grid, meaning that when the public power is out, the rooftop solar power is unavailable – with the exception of having a stand-alone inverter like Pereira does or a battery system like the Tesla Powerwall.
Pete Wilking, president of A1A Solar Contracting in Jacksonville, said “Events like Irma have made people aware of how dependent we are on electricity,”. During this time, local solar contractors and companies have been taking advantage of this adversity to experiment with solar technology to run their home and businesses. Wilking was benefiting from using his home rooftop solar and battery storage system throughout the duration of the storm.
Cities have also taking advantage of this by installing off-grid solar power systems to power traffic lights while the grid was down.
In the course of the worst part of the hurricane – 300,000 people lost power in Broward County. Coral Springs installed 13 lights in prime spots throughout the city.
Solar energy supporters say that now as the city of Florida rebuilds damaged power infrastructure – now couldn’t be a better time for Florida to consider grid resilience and bring on renewable energy.