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Rooftop solar panel energy may be ‘thrown away’ during power outages

Solar panels alone will not power your home during an outage. It requires extra equipment, such as a battery.

AUSTIN, Texas — Austin Energy’s Solar Education Course is required for any homeowner to get an incentive for installing rooftop solar panels, called solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Also, only approved vendors must be used. 

The City lists companies for commercial and residential.

Austin Energy calculates a bill using the Value of Solar (VoS) rate to adjust a customer’s electric charges. The City does not pay for extra energy that panels produce, but will rollover any credit. The education course shows a PV system will not guarantee electricity during an outage. If paired with a battery, the home can have electricity stored in case of emergencies.  

Austin Energy’s website shows a solar unit is powered off during an outage “to protect electric workers.”

“We at the Department of Energy are supporting research on how to enable the grid to use the systems in a way that is safe and reliable. Today, it’s not. In order to keep a safe and reliable grid, if you don’t have your home set up to use that power directly, it’s just being thrown away,” said Becca Jones-Albertus, director for the Solar Energy Technologies Office in the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The Department of Energy looks for ways to integrate rooftop solar for community share.

On its website, the EERE directs companies and researchers to funding opportunities.

Austin Energy lists more information on its website including:

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