Are you ready for the ‘Super Bowl of the Sky’?

Today’s the day!

Time to bust out your stylish eclipse glasses, head to the closest community in the path of totality, and belt out your own rendition of “A total eclipse ...

Tagged: eclipse, total eclipse of the heart, solar, Natural Gas

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Are you ready for the ‘Super Bowl of the Sky’?

Total solar eclipse August 21, 2017

Think of the moon as that tall guy with a big head who sits right in front of you at the movie theater. But since solar panels need sunlight to make energy, when the moon blocks the sun, it will do more than just block the view.

Key Points

  • Today is the solar eclipse.
  • Thanks to advanced planning, most of us won’t even notice the dip in solar energy available.
  • Natural gas is expected to help compensate for the lost solar energy.

Today’s the day!

Time to bust out your stylish eclipse glasses, head to the closest community in the path of totality, and belt out your own rendition of “A total eclipse … of the sun.”

And don’t even pretend that you’ve never sung the lyric “turn around bright eyes” in the car when no one was watching.

While we’re out gazing at what has been called the “Super Bowl of the Sky,” energy providers will be working behind the scenes to make sure electricity is still available — even when solar energy goes off line.

Think of the moon as that tall guy with a big head who sits right in front of you at the movie theater. But since solar panels need sunlight to make energy, when the moon blocks the sun, it will do more than just block the view.

At the movies when you can’t see the screen, you might change seats to see better. But energy companies can’t just move their solar panels to peer around the moon. They have to find an alternative source to make energy. Most providers will depend on natural gas-powered turbines to fill in the gaps.

The Department of Energy believes that thanks to lots of advanced planning, most of us won’t even notice the dip in solar energy:

“The National Renewable Energy Laborabory (NREL) conducted a study of Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) territory, which covers the vast majority of the Mountain and Pacific Time zones including 14 Western states.

“Examining the WECC as a whole, and assuming the worst case scenario — a bright and sunny day — the rolling effects of the eclipse are expected to have the biggest impact at approximately 10:30 a.m., when PV output is projected to drop 5 GW below typical generation levels. This represents the amount of energy needed to power approximately 1 million homes and, if not already anticipated, could create difficulties for portions of the grid network that use solar to meet a significant fraction of electricity demand during the day. The burden of compensating for the lost energy from solar generators will fall mostly on natural gas powered turbines, which are able to ramp up ahead of the eclipse.” 

And thank goodness they planned ahead to make sure the electrons will keep flowing. It would have really hurt my viewing party’s mojo if I couldn’t crank up Spotify and bust out “once upon a time I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart …”

Enjoy the total eclipse of the sun.


Sarah FolslandSarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.

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