Hurricane Irma cut the power to about 6.7 million people in Florida. However, local contractors and companies have been experimenting with renewable energy. Cities all across Florida have decided to leave behind the unreliable, nonrenewable grid in times of crisis. And they have found much success in doing so.
Solar Becomes the Hero
Jacksonville, one of the towns that was hit the worst, had a few citizens who had a renewable backup plan. The president of A1A Solar Contracting, Pete Wilking, found no trouble getting his power back soon after the storm with his rooftop solar and battery storage system.
In Coral Springs, they used solar-powered traffic lights to keep the roads safe as citizens drove in and out of the city. They even placed 13 solar-powered lights in major parts of the city to help keep the people safe. The lights had two small batteries beneath the solar panels so that the lights can still shine at night. They set up these lights during the worst part of the storm when over 300,000 people lost power in the surrounding county.
Expanding the Solar Trend
This hurricane is only one of many examples where renewable energy did, or could have, helped cities under stress get back on their feet. Solar specifically can help run microgrids when main grid is damaged. They also have energy storage ability for when electricity is needed. With everything less interconnected, smaller communities can get up and running much quicker with smaller, more reliable grids.
Recent Solar Success
There are now nine solar cooperatives in the state of Florida. This allows communities to buy solar in bulk and save money. South Miami now requires solar on all new homes, and solar on any renovations that expand a home by more than 75 percent. St. Petersburg is even starting to set its own renewable energy standards. They hope to eliminate any fees that hinder customers from participating in residential and commercial solar systems.
It looks like Florida is starting to embrace renewable energy as a state, even without political backing. They are heading towards a much more reliable, healthy, and safe future. Their efforts will inspire other states to do the same, especially with more storms up ahead.
Source: Inside Climate News, CNBC, 123driving, LA Times, Microgrid Knowledge, Salon.com, Tampabay.com