How Homeowners and Businesses Can Stabilize Georgia’s Power Grid while Saving Money
Georgia’s power grid is becoming stressed. That stress is affecting homeowners and businesses who need reliable power at reasonable prices. When more is demanded from the grid than it can provide, livelihoods and even basic survival are at risk. The Texas power disaster of early 2021 showed how bad it can get when the electrical grid fails across a widespread area for a prolonged period.
But extreme weather events aren’t unique to Texas. In just the last few years, Georgia has seen at least 50 such events, including major hurricanes like Irma and Michael, and an ice storm. We also have hot and humid summers that tax the power grid to provide for all that air conditioning. Could what happened in Texas happen in Georgia?
This goes much further than just the weather.
The Power Grid Is at Risk
Demand for power is outstripping the ability of many utilities to reliably meet it. This is why we see more and more blackouts every year. Much of the grid’s infrastructure is aging and in need of repair or replacement.
As you’re about to see, ratepayers and the utility can both do something to extend the capabilities of the power grid.
What was the power grid designed to do? It generates power, transmits it over lines and circuits, distributes it, and monitors it. Power gets generated from nuclear plants, coal and natural gas plants, renewables like solar energy, as well as other sources. Because of age, some power plants have been taken offline, requiring other generating stations to pick up the slack. When they aren’t able to do that, it can lead to blackouts and brownouts.
During a blackout, what do we lose?
We lose the ability to easily cook our food. We lose heat in winter, and cool air in summer. We lose access to the internet, and all the commerce and business that depends on it. We lose the use of our smartphones and all the digital services we access through them. We lose email. We lose texting. We lose social media. We lose the ability to charge electric cars.
Blackouts cause both immediate and long-term damage. The longer they last, the worse the damage across all fronts. To prevent blackouts, utilities sometimes turn on additional power generating resources. Other times they buy excess power from other regions. But what if those regions are also facing surges in demand? What if the extra assets are already producing and more is needed?
We are more electricity-dependent today than even twenty years ago. Back then, there was no ‘cloud’ for data storage. Most people still used landlines. Phones were not dependent on the power grid. Now they are.
The power grid needs to be modernized. Some of this work is already happening, but it’s expensive, and ratepayers will end up footing most of the bill.
Responding to an Aging Power Grid
Utilities like Georgia Power know what’s at stake. But do you?
We’re going to briefly review how Georgia Power is trying to modernize the power grid. But we’re also going to see what homeowners and businesses like you can do to help strengthen the grid, while also liberating yourself from its vulnerabilities and rising costs.
How Georgia Power Is Working to Modernize the Power Grid
First, they are raising your rates. Rates went up by about $6 per month for the average ratepayer in 2020, and went up another 2.5% in 2021, with a 5% increase planned for 2022.
That’s some serious cash. Where is it all going? Among other things, Georgia Power is working on:
- Expanding the infrastructure for transmission and distribution of power
- Strengthening the reliability and the resiliency of the power grid by adding capacity and the ability to reroute power in an outage
- Replacing aging equipment
- Deploying automation to reduce power outage time
- Rebuilding 380 substations, 800 circuits, and 1000 miles of wiring
- Moving some power lines underground or making them easier to access
Let’s be clear – these are all good investments that will help modernize our electric grid. Everyone will be better off with these improvements. We’ll have a more stable and reliable grid, and fewer people should experience outages. And those outages that do happen won’t last as long. In theory.
But the other side of this is, Georgia Power will be raking in the profits, hitting 12% in the coming years, which has riled up a few people in the state government.
So, will your power grid be more reliable in the coming years? In theory, yes, but because of continuous increases in demand fueled by technology, population growth, and extreme weather events, there’s no guarantee of that.
Will you pay more for your electricity? Yes. A lot more. Over $100 more per year for the typical homeowner, and more for large businesses. And that’s just in the next couple years.
How Georgia Homeowners and Businesses Can Take Ownership of the Power Grid
Solar energy is increasingly being recognized for the influential role it can play in stabilizing the power grid and restoring price sanity for homeowners and businesses.
There are two ways you can use solar to achieve these results:
- Keep your own power running no matter what
- Stabilize the grid by reducing demand during peak usage situations
Let’s look at both of these in more detail.
Reliable Personal Power for Yourself
First, on a personal level, you can own your power by installing your own solar energy system and coupling it with modernized battery storage. This exact setup allowed some people in Texas to make it through the terrible power outage relatively unscathed. Here’s a story of a Texas homeowner who never lost power throughout the entire disaster.