Sierra Club has partnered with Swell Energy to offer solar & home battery solutions to Santa Barbara and Ventura county residents, and to create a clean, "virtual power plant" alternative to a polluting gas power plant. A webinar and Q&A explains why.
Here are some common questions about home battery storage.
Q. What are the benefits of installing home solar plus battery?
A. Solar paired with battery storage can eliminate your electric bill and shift energy use to non-peak hours. Plus you get power during outages and shut offs.
Q. What if I already have solar? Can I add a battery? What if I need both?
A. Yes, you can pair a battery with existing solar panels, or install both new at the same time. If you already have solar, you may want to add a battery so you can use your solar power if there is an outage or power shutoff. If your solar doesn't eliminate electricity costs, adding a battery can let you run off stored energy during peak expensive hours of the day, eliminating utility costs without adding more solar panels.
Q. What does it cost? How long until I get a return on investment?
A. Cost and pay back will vary depending on the size of your system, incentives, and utility costs. There is an extra $1000 special incentive in SCE territory. There may be greater utility savings for PG&E customers. There are also high fire hazard zone, low income and medical need rebates. Community choice programs such as Clean Power Alliance and Monterey Clean Energy (coming to Santa Barbara County in 2021) offer more generous rates to solar customers. Click here to get a quote.
Q. What kind of battery is it? Who will do the installation? Do I need a permit?
A. There are a variety of battery options available. Swell Energy uses the Tesla Powerwall. One benefit of Tesla is the regular software updates and user-friendly app for monitoring your system. Swell uses a network of local installers, and they guarantee a certain amount of incentive rebate and do all the work of applying for it for you, seeking permits and shepherding the project along.
Q. What do you mean by a "virtual power plant"?
A. Our community resisted plans to build yet another power plant on the beach in Oxnard, demanding that renewable energy alternatives be considered. We succeeded, and SCE picked 195MW battery portfolio in place of the Puente gas plant. In addition, to large commercial battery storage, a network of thousands of home batteries will meet the need. Read "How a California community succeeded in pushing for a reliability fix that will see the installation of storage projects rather than a natural-gas peaker plant."