April 29, 2021: One of the US’s biggest utility companies, Pacific Gas & Electric, has launched a microgrid scheme to help isolated communities keep their lights on in times of crisis, PG&E announced on April 13.
The Community Microgrid Enablement Program sets out to facilitate the development of front-of-the-meter microgrids that are used by customers in California, a state where last summer’s wildfires broke records for the acreage burnt.
At least 100,000 people went without power as PG&E was forced to switch off supplies in some areas while in others, grid supplies failed to cope with demand.
PG&E has been working with local governments and communities interested in developing microgrids for their areas and the results were approved by the Californian Public Utilities Commission in March.
“Prioritized projects will be those that serve disadvantaged communities, critical facilities such as hospitals, and areas with a higher likelihood of public safety power shutoffs or other significant power outage events, as well as projects with higher levels of renewable energy,” PG&E said.
The first project under the programme has already been picked out — the Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid, which features solar power generation with battery storage.
The microgrid will provide energy for 18 customer meters, such as the Arcata-Eureka Airport, and ‘serve as a lifeline for Humboldt County in a natural disaster or other emergency’.
It is due to come online in December.