Utility failures in California have inspired new political will behind microgrids.
- Jan 26, 2022 7:18 am GMT
Back up generators are often diesel-powered. In California, these generators have become widely popular in recent years as cities and regions across the state face more frequent safety power shutoff, be it from wildfires or heatwaves that create excessive demand.
According to a report from Microgrid Knowledge, "use of backup generators has increased in the San Francisco Bay Area by 34% over the last three years... The backup generators equate to 15% of the state's total electric capacity and 90% of them use carbon-intensive diesel fuel."
After failing to pass the Legislature last year, one senator from the Napa region of California hopes the increased frequency of power shutoff and use of diesel generators can drum up some urgency to pass The Community Energy Resilience Act, which calls for cities and municipalities to draw up resilience strategies focused around distributed energy resources. The bill would create a grant program for communities to develop energy resilience plans and direct the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission to expedite permitting for communities seeking to distributed energy resources incorporate DERs.
The bill would additionally ask communities, in their climate resilience plans, to put some focus on disadvantaged neighborhoods that are vulnerable to adverse impacts of power shut-offs. Plans would also identify critical infrastructure that is in the greatest need of backup generators, as well as facilities that could serve as "community resilience hubs" to help residents who have lost power.
The resilience plan would essentially be a survey and map of the communities' backup power vulnerabilities and aim to address those weak spots with sustainable solutions. If this passes, we can have PG&E's reliance on fossil fuels and their aging infrastructure to thank for this significant leap forward in energy and load resilience.
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