Solar electricity provides many valuable benefits to the cooperative, cooperative members, and society at large. Some benefits, like freedom from pollution, are well-known. Other valuable benefits often escape notice, but cooperatives have much to gain by capturing the full benefits of solar power.
Utility planners and analysts across the country have evaluated these benefits with consistent results; finding that solar delivers net benefits to society and the grid.
The following overview illustrates some of the values of solar. More resources are available at the end of this page.
Solar Power Helps to Avoid Costs
- Solar power reduces the need for expensive power generation and fuels during times of high demand. Storage innovations, including water heating, are helping cooperatives capture this benefit today.
- Solar reduces energy losses from electric transmission with local generation that is sited nearer to consumption. This matters especially for cooperatives with a low density of consumers across wide geographic areas.
- Solar avoids costs of new infrastructure such as power plants, transmission lines and substations. When a co-op member makes a solar investment on site they help the cooperative avoid these larger and riskier investments.
- Cooperatives have modernized grid operations at high rates with AMI (Advanced Meter Infrastructure) and other technologies which aid in the greater and more creative adoption of solar power. Many cooperatives are poised to succeed with solar.
- Because solar is fuel-free, it protects from the price swings from fossil fuels and brings more certainty to energy costs.
Expanded Jobs and Economic Development
- The solar industry added 25% more jobs in 2016, to a total of 260,077 solar workers in the United States. Solar now employs twice as many Americans as the entire coal industry.
- Solar creates and saves local jobs, many in installation and maintenance that cannot be outsourced.
- Solar energy is produced locally while fossil fuels are imported from elsewhere, often sending money out of local economies. Investment in local power generation with cooperatives helps rural economies by keeping energy dollars in the community.
- Solar helps local producers compete. Modern markets place a high value on products produced with sustainable practices such as solar power.
Reduced Pollution Improves Public Health
- Solar reduces dangerous air pollutants linked to asthma, premature death and other dangerous health issues.
- With the costs of climate change rising, solar energy produces electricity without global warming pollution. Adopting solar energy now prepares cooperatives for inevitable requirements to decarbonize electric power supplies.
- Solar avoids pollution control costs and liabilities such as installing new pollution reduction technologies.
- Fossil fuels carry risks of price and supply volatility. A fuel-free system like solar provides immunity and a hedge against such higher costs.
- Solar energy places downward pressure on the price of other fuels by reducing demand.
- Solar increases energy security by reducing reliance on vulnerable centralized generation and transmission infrastructure.
For more information on the Value of Solar
For more information on the value of solar: