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Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

  • Member since 2017
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  • Mar 14, 2022
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More people are going off-grid but it comes as no surprise to PG&E.  The utility said homeowners in rural areas have always been more likely to go off the grid because extending power lines over long distances simply costs more.  The cost to install solar panels and batteries has come down drastically in price making it possible for more residents to make the switch.  However, some experts say too many going completely off-grid could not only hurt utilities but hinder the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as well. Is the off-grid trend growing fast enough to be a concern for utilities?  Especially companies looking to reduce their reliance on fossils fuels by using energy being sent back to the grid from residential renewables?

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Bob Meinetz on Mar 14, 2022

Nevelyn, though it might be counter-intuitive, going completely off-grid is hindering the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Virtually no one (with the exception of ascetics living in desert communities in the southwesten U.S.) relies on exclusively renewable energy. If someone in Southern California claims they do, and you take a stroll around the back of their home, you will very likely find a 500-gallon tank of propane used for those times renewables aren't available. And if you guessed burning propane from the tank creates more carbon emissions than maintaining a connection to California's grid, you would be right.

Other ex-customers with a natural gas connection are buying gas generators to fill in the blanks:
This generator maker’s stock just soared to a record as PG&E power cuts cause business to boom

Same story: these
"eco-warriors" are doing more harm than help (due to economies of scale, generating electricity at a gas plant is more efficient than thousands or millions of customers doing it themselves).

Though everyone has the right to generate their own electricity however they prefer, they shouldn't kid themselves that they're doing any favors for the environment.

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