Looking Beyond the Eclipse: How the Historic Event Tested Customer Engagement on the Electric Grid

Even if you couldn’t step outside to watch the solar eclipse take place today, it was still possible to participate in this historic event. No, not just by watching the NASA livestream — but by curbing your electricity usage.

The eclipse will affect around 1,900 utility-scale solar PV power plants across the U.S. today, causing an estimated 9,000 megawatts of solar capacity to go offline as the moon passes in front of the sun. California alone was projected to lose 6,000 megawatts of solar capacity. Generation profiles from the California Independent System Operator show a roughly 5,000-megawatt drop shortly before 12 noon.

All of this generation had to be made up for somehow. The data shows that hydropower and natural-gas-powered turbines largely carried the burden of compensating for lost solar output. Energy storage may have also played a role.

While these large-scale, high-tech responses are critical, the influence of the individual electricity consumer cannot be underestimated, said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). In fact, consumers have to start thinking more about how their energy use fits into a larger system due to the grid needs even on non-eclipse days.

Read more (Greentech Media)