Report shines a light on undervalued benefits
Nevadans benefit from solar panels in important ways that are often overlooked by policymakers, according to The True Value of Solar: Measuring The Benefits of Rooftop Solar Power, a new study released today by Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center and Frontier Group. States should assess all those benefits when determining their energy policies and incentives.
“Power from the sun is a boon to the environment, protects our health from dirtier power options and gives us a shot at leaving our kids a better world,” Susan Rakov, chair of Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center’s Clean Energy program, said. “We need to appreciate what solar energy is really worth, and base our public policies on it.”
“Nevada has taken some important steps this year, giving Nevadans more incentives to use solar energy to the benefit of us all. Solar energy is still, however, at a disadvantage considering its variety of environmental and public health benefits compared to fossil fuel energy sources” said Levi Kamolnick, State Director with Environment Nevada Research and Policy Center.
The new report argues that energy policies should account for the full suite of benefits associated with solar energy. Solar adds value to the grid by limiting the need to generate power at fossil fuel plants, and to make costly investments in new power capacity, distribution and transmission. Solar energy can make prices more stable, improve reliability and reduce environmental compliance costs, the study found.
Rooftop solar also delivers valuable environmental and societal benefits. When we add more clean, renewable energy to the grid, we reduce global warming emissions, along with pollution that threatens public health or contributes to soot and smog. Solar energy also reduces the need for fracking, coal extraction and other parts of the fossil fuel life cycle, and creates local economic benefits.
Studies that inform state solar energy policies often neglect those sweeping benefits. When solar energy is valued accurately, policies and incentives that encourage more residents and business owners to go solar are typically shown to provide a net benefit to all electric customers. Kamolnick argued that Nevada should be implementing more credits and incentives that acknowledge the full value of solar energy and pursue community solar to add more clean energy to the grid.
“Given the climate crisis we are facing, a clear-eyed and honest assessment of the actual value of solar power is essential,” said Kamolnick. “And, that true value must be reflected in our energy policies. We need to do everything in our power to encourage more Americans to go solar because it benefits everyone. Let’s not rely on bad math that undermines the very programs that make it possible.”
Environment Nevada Research & Policy Center is a 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.