Using Microgrids to Improve California’s Grid Resilience

In a GreenBiz article, Navigant Research explains how microgrids could reduce the number of large power shutoffs and improve California’s grid

Recently California’s Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) shut off electricity to more than one million Californians as a safety measure to prevent the potential spread of wildfires. The shutoffs exposed the lack of grid resilience in the state, which prides itself on technology and innovation.

In a GreenBiz article, Navigant Research’s Peter Asmus, research director, discussed why microgrids would be a good solution to California’s grid and shutoff issues. 

He noted that California’s power shutoffs led to quick sales of backup fossil generators, which could lead to increased reliance on small-scale power and unregulated sources, jeopardizing the state’s aggressive clean energy initiatives. Asmus believes that microgrids are a better solution to the shutoffs, but that improvements need to be made to implement on a wider scale. 

“The state needs a more comprehensive strategy to deploy microgrids more broadly, with greater regulatory clarity on the role for utilities, the private sector, and local governments,” Asmus said. “Of particular concern are critical facilities, including first responders to wildfires and other vital infrastructure services, such as clean drinking water.”

Additionally, he noted how California’s power delivery infrastructure is under extreme duress, and large power plants are being replaced by clean renewable energy often located at homes, local government facilities, and businesses. These resources are vulnerable to wildfires, extreme weather, and terrorist attacks, which leave communities at risk, despite the good intention of clean energy goals.

“To protect these communities, microgrids — or a series of microgrids — could be created to protect entire communities, although that approach would require major regulatory action at the state level and would need to involve utilities such as PG&E,” Asmus said. 

Read the GreenBiz Article

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