Updated Jul 24, 2018

Utility rates driving record demand for home energy storage systems

A wall-mounted battery stores electricity generated by rooftop solar panels for use charging an electric car. Photo: Don Bartletti/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Installations of home energy storage system in the U.S. hit a record high in the first quarter of 2018, according to a new industry report. The new capacity of 36 megawatt-hours will sustain an estimated 4,000 home systems and adds to the 1,080 megawatt-hours installed in the past 4 years.

The big picture: Home energy storage systems commonly use batteries to store the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels, which can then be used during peak times and on demand to reduce utility costs or for backup power during inclement weather. The increasing penetration of residential and commercial solar installations has lowered energy demands on utilities. But the policies they have implemented to offset those losses have ended up making home energy systems even more attractive.

The background: As solar gained popularity over the past decade, and customers began generating their own energy during peak times (noon), peak-time electricity demand for utilities dropped. As a result, the utilities shifted the peak times and time-of-use (TOU) rates to later in the afternoon and early evening when solar wasn’t as effective. Utilities have also started to restrict net-metering compensation, which allows customers to offset public utility costs or sell surplus energy generated from home systems back to the public grid.

One third of the first-quarter 2018 installations were in California and Hawaii, states with aggressive and supportive policies for renewables. (California’s self-generation incentive program, for example, offers energy storage subsidies if installed with a solar panel system.) Both states are looking to revise net-metering restrictions and TOU rates, which would make home installations more appealing and affordable.

What's next: As home energy storage systems proliferate, adding an electric vehicle to the mix would provide a trifecta of home renewables. Using stored energy generated from rooftop solar panels to power an electric vehicle could provide a model of fossil fuel–free living.

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property, an intellectual property law firm. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.

Go deeper

Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship

Thomas Modly. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday after apologizing for comments he made about Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed when a letter he wrote pleading with the Navy to address the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the press. The resignation was first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: The controversy over Crozier's removal was exacerbated after audio leaked of Modly's address to the crew, in which he said Crozier was either "too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this." After initially backing Modly's decision, President Trump said at a briefing Monday that he would "get involved."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,407,123— Total deaths: 81,103 — Total recoveries: 297,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 386,800 — Total deaths: 12,285 — Total recoveries: 20,191Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week
  4. Public health latest: Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. World latest: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Wisconsin primary in photos: Thousands gathered to cast ballots in-person during the height of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

America's food heroes

Photos: Charlie Riedel/AP (L); Brent Stirton/Getty Images

The people who grow, process and keep food stocked on shelves are doing heroic work in these conditions, often for bottom-barrel pay.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans don't have the luxury of working from home, and it's essential that food workers keep working so we can keep eating.

Go deeperArrow17 mins ago - Health