The PG&E plan to use periodic power cutoffs to reduce its exposure to financial liability during severe wildfire conditions has started a new trend in Manteca — the installation of batteries to store electricity generated by solar panels.
The city issued 11 such permits for homes in October for work ranging in value from $5,000 to $20,000 for homes to a $29,142 project for a commercial property. Altogether they represent an investment of $113,912.
That brings the total number of energy storage installations being put in place in Manteca to 97 for the first 10 months of the year at a cost of $553,800. That compares to 22 for all of 2018.
Solar systems that generate power are useless during PG&E shutdowns unless they are wedded with batteries. The way the panels operate — and are wired to the system — precludes them from generating power when PG&E is off line.
PG&E CEO Bill Johnson has indicated many of the 16 million people they sell electricity to — including much of San Joaquin County including Manteca, Lathrop, Stockton, Tracy, Escalon and parts of Ripon — could face power cutoffs for the next 10 years while the utility tries to replace aging equipment and make their system less likely to start wildfires. So far fires started by PG&E have killed 85 of their customers and burned 20,000 plus homes, schools, churches, stores, hospitals, and other buildings.
Based on the value of several of the systems being installed, some Manteca homeowners appear to be trying to wean themselves off the PG&E grid.
Even though solar energy panels by themselves won’t generate electricity to power a home based on the way they are connected to the grid when PG&E is offline, the number of people installing residential solar system continues to grow in a bid to reduce their exposure to ever rising PG&E rates for electricity. PG&E is planning a 12.8 percent rate increase next year.
There were 98 permits issued for solar systems valued at $1.9 million in Manteca during October. That brings the number so far this year to 857 at a combined cost of $16.9 million. That is almost twice the number of new homes being built. The number of new solar system installations is expected to exceed 1,000 by year’s end.
Last year Manteca issued 969 permits for solar power systems valued at $16.9 million.
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