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Intersection: Solar Energy & Hurricanes

Solar panels at Kennedy Space Center. Photo: NASA
Solar panels at Kennedy Space Center. Photo: NASA

Hurricanes like Irma can knock out power for a long time. But what if you have solar panels on your roof?

Lyndsey Gilpin, a freelance journalist who writes about climate change, energy and environmental justice,  joined Intersection to talk about how solar could be part of an electrical grid that's better able to withstand storms. 

Gilpin says some Floridians with solar panels were able to get power during the blackout after Hurricane Irma.

"I spoke to one solar contractor, he said about 95 percent of his customers were tied to the grid, so they weren't able to use their solar when their power was down," said Gilpin.

"But that five percent that he mentioned did have energy storage systems, did have inverters. So it's becoming more common, but energy storage is still an expensive product," she said.

Solar is one option for Puerto Rico as it looks to repair the storm damaged electrical grid. Tesla CEO Elon Musk suggested solar panels and batteries could be part of the rebuild.

We also rebroadcast an interview with Orlando resident Michael Cohen,  which we first aired on Intersection in 2016.

"There are multiple reasons to put solar on and they are all good," said Cohen, who founded a solar co-op.

He said the excess energy his solar panels produces is bought back from OUC.

"My wife and I are heading into retirement and not having an electric bill will be really nice," he said.

Since this interview first aired, Cohen said a co-op is now up and running in Volusia County too, and two more are planned for Orange County in 2018.