SDG&E installed battery systems at 27 schools across San Diego as part of a multiyear field evaluation. A few of those schools also had small solar arrays. The utility analyzed the schools’ utility bills and then created a model to compare optimal operation to what was observed in the field. Each school saved money on its monthly utility bills by managing peak demand with its on-site storage. Solar-plus-storage systems produced the largest cost savings and shortest payback periods. SDG&E found the schools could have saved about twice as much on utility bills if they had installed solar panels and if they had better controls to manage peak demand. This would have reduced each school’s annual electric utility costs by 50%. If schools operate a well-designed battery system, this study showed, they can pay back the cost of the system within the lifetime of the battery—assuming they receive federal tax credits. (These findings are specific to the load profile and solar resources of the schools in San Diego.) For more details, see the report Behind-the-Meter Battery Market Study, available from the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council.
This study illustrates the positive impacts solar and storage systems can have on schools’ energy costs. These projects are most cost-effective when solar and battery systems are properly sized and when schools receive financial incentives.
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