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Why rooftop solar is disruptive to utilities—and the grid

Seth Blumsack, on March 24, 2015

A report earlier this month detailed how electric utilities were working through state regulators to stunt the spread of rooftop solar, the latest tactic in a campaign an industry group started three years ago.

What worries utilities so much? At one level, the problem is obvious: customers with rooftop solar panels buy less energy and pay less to utilities. But the issue is not limited to giant utility companies' earnings potential. After all, we all use electricity and rely on utilities to maintain the power infrastructure.

Why is solar so threatening to utilities? And how is the rapid growth of solar changing how the grid works? The answers lie in the sometimes-arcane world of electric utilities and their business model. In all the change, though, there needs to be a discussion over how solar fits into the grid and how to ensure grid reliability.

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