An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Coal is the primary fuel source for Midwest electric utilities. Michigan Technological University researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money. As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal. However, as three Michigan Tech researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers.
In the paper, Prehoda and co-authors Joshua M. Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Chelsea Schelly, associate professor of sociology, note that in the U.S., “70 percent of coal plants run at a higher cost than new renewable energy and by 2030 all of them will.” The researchers provide a breakdown of savings per kilowatt hour by county that Michigan residents could achieve if they produce their own electricity with solar photovoltaic panels. The most significant impacts of distributed generation with solar are in the Upper Peninsula, where residential customers could see savings of approximately 7 cents per kilowatt hour. Assuming the average residential consumer uses 600 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly, this is a savings of $42 per utility bill. Downstate, the average savings per utility bill under the researchers’ model is approximately $30 monthly. However, not all Michigan consumers can take advantage of the opportunity to self-generate, as some utilities are blocking additional net-metered distributed generation in their areas. The study has been published in the journal Energies.
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