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Photo: Andrew Aitchison/InPictures via Getty Images

The solar industry came out with new data yesterday showing record residential installations in the third quarter, edging out prior highs in 2016.

The intrigue: One part of the quarterly report that caught my eye confirms that PG&E's power shut-offs are driving interest in solar-plus-battery systems, though the real effect won't be known for a while.

By the numbers: Overall, the U.S. residential market grew by 712 megawatts of installed capacity as 15 states saw their biggest gains ever.

  • The total solar market grew by 2.6 gigawatts of capacity, up 25% from the prior quarter, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

Where it stands: Let's look at California, the biggest U.S. market where nearly 300 megawatts of residential capacity was added in Q3.

  • One driver of the record residential growth there is demand stemming from looming state mandates for solar deployment in new homes.

Why you'll hear about this again: The report says an "unexpected" driver of demand is "increased consumer interest in solar and solar-plus-storage options in response to dissatisfaction with California utilities."

  • "This disaffection has a long history but most recently stems from Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) which have left hundreds of thousands of utility customers without electricity, often for days at a time."
  • It's the latest sign of forecasts that the outages will spur battery sales.

What we're watching: How much this might help juice deployment in the future.

  • Wildfires and the risks to power supply — and the potential for planned blackouts — have been a known in California for quite a while, so that has likely led to some sales that are showing up in the Q3 numbers.
  • But PG&E's massive intentional outages to cut fire risks began in October, so analysts will have a much better sense of their impact on solar-plus-storage purchases in data that's not captured in this report.

The big picture: The report's finding of growing interest in solar and batteries stemming from the outages is consistent with prior signs of this trend.

  • Last month, for instance, Sunrun's CEO said on an earnings call that customers are increasingly choosing their "Brightbox" service that combines solar with batteries.
  • The Wood Mackenzie report also notes that national media attention to the shut-offs is increasing interest in solar paired with batteries outside the state.
  • Greentech Media reported yesterday that California regulators are shifting the focus of an existing distributed generation incentive program to "giving battery-solar backup systems to those at greatest risk of wildfires and blackouts."

But, but, but: The preemptive power outages are spurring interest in backup power in several forms.

  • This NBC News piece is among several of late about consumers' snapping up fossil fuel-powered home generators.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Meta removes over 600 accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China

Facebook's corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Meta announced Wednesday it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence operation that claimed the U.S. was pressuring the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

Why it matters: Though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.

Stacey Abrams launches second campaign for Georgia governor

Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

Stacey Abrams, voting rights activist and former 2018 candidate for Georgia governor, is running for the position again in 2022. Abrams would be the first Black female governor in the country.

Why it matters: Abrams caught national attention in 2018 by narrowly losing an election to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in a state held firmly by the GOP for nearly two decades.

First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks during the daily briefing at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The first known U.S. case of the Omicron variant was detected in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

Driving the news: The confirmed case was detected in a traveler returning from South Africa who was fully vaccinated and has mild symptoms, according to the CDC.

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