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EGEB: Blackouts and rising electric bills are driving US household solar and storage

In today’s Electrek Green Energy Brief (EGEB):

  • Four in five US homeowners with solar and storage feel prepared to weather a power outage.
  • Average construction costs for US wind farms dropped by 27% from 2013 to 2019.
  • UnderstandSolar is a free service that links you to top-rated solar installers in your region for personalized solar estimates. Tesla now offers price matching, so it’s important to shop for the best quotes. Click here to learn more and get your quotes. — *ad.

Electrical grid failures, power outages, and rising electric bills are spurring on many US homeowners to invest in solar and battery storage, according to a new survey released today by San Jose-headquartered SunPower Corp.

1,500 respondents completed the survey that was conducted by Schlesinger Group, an independent research company. The survey consisted of a sample of US homeowners with solar on their homes, those considering solar, and those not considering solar. Here are four key findings:

Power outages. 2 in 5 respondents worry about power outages on a monthly basis, and 1 in 5 worry weekly. More than 50% of homeowners who have experienced a power outage in the last year say trust in their energy provider has wavered. 

Outages spur action. One-third of those considering solar cited high-profile outages as a key driver. 70% of those polled plan to purchase battery storage, compared to less than 6% last year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Additionally, those who experienced an outage in the last year are nearly four times more likely to have purchased solar panels and storage compared to those who didn’t have a power outage. 

Solar consumers are diversifying. 74% of solar users are millennials or Gen Z, and baby boomers represent the majority of those currently considering solar. Nearly 75% of those considering solar earn less than $100,000 annually, compared to just 34% of those who already have household solar. Most people who own or are considering solar are largely in the South and California. The Midwest is next in line, with 24% of homeowners there considering solar.

Cost drives decisions. Lowering energy bills is the No. 1 reason homeowners invested in solar, followed closely by resilience during power outages. 79% of those considering solar cite cost as a prohibitive reason. But 60% of all respondents overestimate the average cost of purchasing household solar.

Read more: Finally, a new bill calls for tax credits for integrated solar roofs

US wind farm construction costs drop

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that the average US wind farm construction cost fell from $1,895 per kilowatt (kW) in 2013 to $1,391/kW in 2019. Further:

US onshore wind generating capacity increased 74% from 2013 to 2019 to a total of 104 gigawatts (GW), including 9.6 GW built in 2019. 

Wind capacity and construction costs vary significantly by region. Texas leads the US in onshore wind capacity. Average wind construction costs for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages around 90% of Texas’s electric load, totaled $1,114/kW in 2019 and were less expensive than the US average for that year.

ERCOT installed more wind capacity than any other US electricity market region in 2019 (3.5 GW) and also had the most total wind capacity (26 GW) as of December 2019. Favorable market conditions, wholesale prices, and geographic advantages contribute to lower construction costs in ERCOT.

The US Wind Belt runs down the center of the country and has some of the best conditions for wind power.

The average construction cost for wind in SPP [Southwest Power Pool], which manages the electric grid in all or parts of 14 states including northwest Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, was $1,426/kW. In MISO [Midcontinent Independent System Operator], which covers the Midwest United States as well as parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana, the average construction cost for wind in 2019 was $1,637/kW.

New Mexico, Kansas, and Colorado, all in the Wind Belt, were among the least expensive states in the US for constructing wind generating capacity from 2013 to 2019.

Photo: SunPower

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Avatar for Michelle Lewis Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis is a writer and editor on Electrek and an editor on DroneDJ, 9to5Mac, and 9to5Google. She lives in White River Junction, Vermont. She has previously worked for Fast Company, the Guardian, News Deeply, Time, and others. Message Michelle on Twitter or at Check out her personal blog.