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Renewing Energy Means Cleaner, Healthier World

by Ted Hodkinson

The recent spate of severe weather experienced on the East Coast that left millions of National Grid and Eversource power customers without service, highlights more than ever the need for homeowners to consider adding a battery backup system for their home power needs.

Many Massachusetts and now Rhode Island residents have switched to solar power to cut their energy bills significantly, a great idea to get predictable power for years and avoid big rate increases that are now happening every year. Combining battery storage at a home or office allows people to generate their own power and store it for use at night or when the grid goes down.  

For many people the alternative has been to use gas or diesel power generators to provide power when the grid goes down. With many large coal, gas and nuclear power plants predicted to be phased out resulting in potential brownouts even in the Northeast, producing one’s own safe, clean electricity and storing it in a home battery system or in an electric vehicle to be drawn from when needed, is an idea of the future that is here now. In fact, the UK Guardian recently announced that Nissan Motor Group will be taking electric vehicle batteries from Nissan Leafs that are no longer on the road and recycling them into battery backup systems for the home to compete with Tesla’s home power wall systems.

The attorney General in Massachusetts, Maura Healey, just announced her record settlement with VW Audi, which set a nationwide standard for the largest settlement of its size ever, totaling $75 million for all states. She is proposing that Massachusetts use these funds to promote the adoption of electric vehicles to increase Governor Charlie Baker’s target number of 300,000 on the road by 2025, to a number beyond that. She is looking to encourage charging stations for electric vehicles, battery backups, greater tax incentives for purchase of used electric vehicles and greater energy efficiency in homes and offices. Perhaps Rhode Island won’t be far behind in following her and Governor Baker’s lead.

So what can Rhode Island homeowners do to help the environment and themselves in 2018? They can go solar, drive an electric vehicle and store their own power for a rainy or stormy day. Power will go from rooftop to battery—when the sun comes out the next day, just flip the switch, and you are back in business. The IRS is about to decide on whether to allow battery backup systems to qualify for the 30 percent Investment Tax Credit if combined with solar power. It will make sense for our communities and will provide homeowners the peace of mind when storms happen, while also benefitting utility companies by knowing that their customers are insuring their own safety and security before they can get there to help.

Ted Hodkinson is an energy professional serving the RI and MA markets for their solar and related energy storage needs. He can be reached at 774-294-7516.