How COVID & Severe Weather Increase Florida’s Demand for Solar

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Florida's Increase in Solar Demand

Over the last couple of years, people have been home more, which has increased residential usage. People that once were in an office for most of the day are now working from home. Working from home has pros and cons. One con is the increased electricity usage, which results in higher electricity bills. This energy usage is increased even further with the unusually extreme weather over the past couple of years.

The Increase in Residential Electricity Usage

There are a couple of reasons why residential usage has increased. These reasons include the shift from working in an office, or at all, and warmer and longer summer weather.

COVID’s Impact on Electricity Usage

In 2020, Sense home energy data from 10,000 homes crossed the United States showed that residential electricity usage between 8 am and 6 pm increased by 13.3 percent from 2019. In 2021, energy usage declined by 1.3 percent during these same hours, suggesting that while some people have found work outside the home, many are still home either without work or working from home.

Since the pandemic started, people have had to adjust to a new normal. For many, this means eating out less and working from home. These two things, along with the trend towards more smart-home devices, like smart thermostats, and electric appliance use, have increased our reliance on electricity within our homes. However, these aren’t the only culprits to the jump in electricity usage.

Electricity Usage and Extreme Weather

Unusually extreme weather has also made it difficult for utilities to predict and keep up with the demand. Utilities have more issues keeping up with the community’s electricity needs in areas that have experienced intense and extended summer heat. The hot weather means that homes need to use more electricity to keep homes at a comfortable temperature, which increases the strain on utilities.

Increased Electricity Usage in Florida

Florida is not an exception to this increase in residential electricity usage. According to EIA, Florida’s residential electricity usage went up, and the state’s commercial electricity went down from 2019 to 2020.

When we look at the hourly electricity load in Florida we can also see slightly higher peaks and shallower valleys in 2020, 2021, and the start of 2022 than previous years. Meaning, in general, there is more electricity use in Florida than in past years.

The question then is, what does this increase in Florida electricity use mean? Fossil fuels harm the environment and struggle to keep up with the demand. As a result, renewable energy has come to the rescue. In particular, Florida has seen an increase in solar power.

Increased Solar Power in Florida

When looking at Florida’s renewable energy consumption, solar power spiked in about 2017 and continued to rise. Solar power accounts for almost two-thirds of Florida’s renewable generation.

Even though solar power is a large player within Florida’s renewable energy mix, it only accounts for five percent of Florida’s in-state electricity generation. Those who want to protect themselves from uncertainty can invest in residential solar. This solar power option allows homeowners to install solar arrays on their homes and take control of their electricity needs. Additionally, homeowners that purchase solar panels save money on their electricity. EnergySage estimates that most Florida solar homes have a payback period of 7.2 – 9.7 years and an electricity bill offset of 80-109 percent.

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