Solar energy is a fantastic way for cities and towns to lock in reliable costs of electricity for decades while reducing their impact on the climate. By generating their own electricity from solar power, municipalities can also reduce their monthly electric bills. And that means serious cost savings! Powering schools, libraries, municipal office buildings, and maintenance centers requires a lot of energy. For the typical local government, energy expenditures are the second largest budget item. So, saving money on electricity can significantly cut operating expenses.
Thanks to NET metering by the local utility company (PG&E), solar owners – including municipal governments – will receive full credit for every unit of electricity produced by their panels. That means their electric bill will go down with every watt of solar electricity they produce. In extra sunny months when solar electricity production outpaces total electricity consumption, solar owners will earn credits that they can apply to future monthly electric bills. Whether a municipality installs solar on a single building or an entire fleet, the reductions in their monthly electric bill will translate into savings that can be applied somewhere else.
Solar is now cheaper than buying power from the grid. Solar costs have fallen significantly, (over 60%), since 2010. As solar costs fall, electricity costs are on the rise. Installing solar allows municipalities to reduce their costly electric bills by producing their own electricity. Those savings can be re-invested elsewhere in municipal budgets. What’s more, by exporting less of their electricity bill payments to out-of-state utility holding companies, municipalities can keep that money local.
The solar industry now employs more than 250,000 people. The solar industry employs twice as many people as the entire coal industry. As many Americans work in solar as in natural gas. By installing solar on one or more buildings, municipalities can fuel solar job creation in their local community.
Installing solar panels on one or more of their building can help municipalities jump-start the local clean energy economy. You can leverage your community outreach resources to educate constituents about renewable energy systems during installation, growing the local customer base. Municipalities can pair the solar installation with updates their internal solar permitting practices. This can signal to the community that your municipality is omitted to growing the local clean energy economy.
Installing solar can help your municipality meet its sustainability goals by decreasing its consumption of fossil fuel-powered electricity and offsetting its carbon emissions.
As battery technology drops in price, many municipalities are considering solar plus storage to use during outages and to offset their peak demand charges.