Solar Power and Your Home

California leads the nation in homes powered by solar energy.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

From fire weather forecasts to the threat of flooding over burn scars, our NBC4 Weather Team always keeps you on top of our changing weather patterns. Meteorologist Anthony Yanez presents us with a new solar power forecast and a program that installs solar panels to those who can’t afford it. 

Spencer Jefferson, Grid Alternatives

Southern California averages 284 days of sunshine a year but is currently in the cloudy and rainy season. If you’ve ever considered the move to solar power, you know you have to weigh the cost of installation to the expected savings over time. But a new program changes that as it installs solar panels to high-need communities.

On a sunny morning in Lynwood, a 'Grid Alternatives' crew is doing an install. But these workers aren’t your typical crew. Nila Cousar and Spencer Jefferson are part of an on-the-job training program that provides vital skills in the solar industry.

"It's always good to come to a job with some kind of knowing," said Jefferson. "So I think me having the skills installing everything, I'll come with my boots all the way strapped and I will know everything to do really, so I wouldn't have to have any extra training."

Jefferson said his goal is to take what he’s learning with 'Grid Alternatives' and start his own real estate or construction company.

The job training is a key component of the Disadvantaged Community – Solar Home Program. It’s a new state initiative that installs solar panels for income-qualified homeowners in communities that are dis-proportionality impacted by poor air quality. It also helps the environment by installing clean energy in neighborhoods that under normal circumstances couldn’t afford it.

"It's good to know that, you know, we're making an impact out here," said Cousar. "It all starts with us just identifying someone who's in need, you know, who could use the additional funds for basic needs."

On the installation Cousar is working on, the homeowner will save about 60% a month on their utility bill. After 20 years using the solar panels, the homeowner will save $7,000.

Laura Marquez owns the home and she's one of 200 homeowners who qualified for a solar power installation in 2019.

“The cost was one of the major things that made us decide to actually apply for the program because we know we're going to be saving money on energy," said Marquez. "We want to leave something for our children on Earth, you know, so we want to use some kind of renewable energy, and make sure that our grand-kids have a good place to live."

Jessica Lim, from SoCal Edison, oversees this project and said she is proud to be a part of it.

"Solar is great for our customers and the environment. Solar is powered by the sun so it doesn't release harmful pollutants into the air which is great for everyone," said Lim. "Then for SoCal Edison it helps us produce more clean energy and provides more clean energy into the grid."

The Solar Power Forecast above is for Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. This is a good example of solar powering your home with clouds and rain in the forecast.

First the percentage of homes getting electricity from the sun in Los Angeles ranges from 18% to 9%. The number goes down as the clouds increase. And your solar power index is how much sunshine is getting to the panels.

Friday was sunny, but even with the clouds Sunday, power is still being generated.

Lastly, even with shorter days from winter and clouds, there is still a percentage of money saved using solar power in these homes from 64% to 49%. In the spring and summer these numbers can go above 100% and put power back into the grid.

And if you didn’t know, California leads the nation in homes powered by solar energy.

If you'd like to read more on how these numbers are created click here.

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