Extreme weather events across the U.S. — from wildfires and drought in the West, to deep freezes and floods in the South and Southeast — have disrupted the electric grid this year. As a result, homeowners are buying solar and energy storage systems at rates never before seen, according to data from solar website SolarReviews.com.
As California faces devastating wildfires and record drought, the website saw a 358% year-over-year jump in solar estimate quotes requested by California residents between June 30 and Aug. 6.
The state has also faced numerous power outages over the past year. PG&E has cut the power on several occasions when dry conditions and high winds increase the risk of sparking a fire. The state has also had trouble on the power supply side, and the California Independent System Operator has issued flex alerts, calling on customers to cut usage when demand is expected to peak. In some cases, rolling blackouts have taken place when power availability comes up short.
A similar phenomenon played out earlier this summer in Oregon, when Portland hit an all-time high of 116 degrees. SolarReviews said that between June 25 and June 30 the website saw a 919% increase in solar estimate requests from the state compared to the same period in 2020.
It’s not only happening in the West. The deep-freeze that hit Texas and the South in February, leading to multi-day power cuts for millions of customers and more than 150 deaths, fueled interest in on-site energy systems. SolarReviews said it saw an 850% jump in quote requests between Feb. 13 and Feb. 17 in Texas.
“These folks that experience environmental difficulty gain a whole different perspective on what solar and batteries are,” SolarReviews founder and President Andy Sendy said.
Launched in 2012, SolarReviews has had more than 25 million unique visitors across its platform of websites that offer information on solar power, as well as highly localized quotes. The website has an option for visitors to request a quote, and SolarReviews makes money by then selling that data to companies that operate in the consumer’s location.
Sendy said customers’ questions about solar have become increasingly sophisticated. At first, queries included things like “do solar panels work?” Now, people will ask questions about the type of solar system they should get if they also want to hook up electric vehicles.
Sendy attributes much of this shift to word-of-mouth: Many people know someone who’s gotten solar panels, so their efficacy is now accepted.
But the potential saving on electricity bills has consistently remained the predominant driving force.
Read more: CNBC