But solar power is also killing the traditional utility business model.
As more people install solar panels, utilities have fewer customers. As a result, electricity rates increase, which encourages even more people to abandon utility power in favor of solar energy.
This entire process is known as the “utility death spiral.” And it’s becoming more severe with each passing day.
Although the death spiral is happening all over the country, it is particularly pronounced in California – one of the most active solar hotspots in the nation. SDG&E, for example, already has 45,000 customers within its network that rely predominantly on solar power. And every month, that number increases by 5%.
But could the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) save utilities from this solar onslaught?
How California Utilities Can Actually Benefit from EVs
James Avery is the senior VP of power supply at SDG&E. And he’s often asked whether solar is ruining his business.
The quick answer is yes. Solar is indeed eating away at corporate profits.
But Avery believes that the rise of EVs offers an incredible opportunity for utility providers – all over the country. According to his calculations, there are about 30 million automobiles in the state today (3 million in San Diego alone). And right now, EVs represent a tiny drop in the bucket – 100,000+ throughout California, and about 10,000 in the San Diego area.
The overwhelming majority of these electric vehicles still plug into the grid. And as EV sales continue to skyrocket, this will place unbelievable pressure on utilities as they scramble to meet with soaring electricity demand. By 2025, California is expected to have 1 million EVs on the road.
In Avery’s own words, “I’m worried about how the hell do I serve all of that [demand].”
And he’s absolutely right. As more Californians switch from gas-guzzlers to electric vehicles, the death spiral will likely slow down – maybe even reverse.
But only temporarily.
Why the California Utility Death Spiral Is Inevitable
The rise of EVs will definitely help utilities. But this reprieve will be short-lived.
And here’s why.
Electric vehicles can plug into any electricity source. And in most cases, this means the local utility grid.
But there is a growing movement to charge EVs with alternative forms of power – namely solar energy. After all:
- Sunshine is free
- There is zero pollution
- The setup is easy
This is why nearly 40% of EV owners in California already have solar panels installed on their homes and businesses. Why pay for grid power when you can charge your car with free, clean electricity instead?
It’s a pretty cool notion that is quickly gaining momentum – not just in California – but across the country.
To learn how you can opt out of utility power completely, contact us today for a free consultation.