In the face of California’s widespread power shutoffs and the rise of dirty fossil-fuel-powered back-up generators, The Climate Center has launched an initiative for equitable clean and smart microgrids to build Community Energy Resilience. The state’s century-old electric grid is failing Californians, leaving residents and businesses to face the costly and deadly impacts of public safety power shutoffs and rolling blackouts.
“Climate extremes are increasing. A modern, decentralized and flexible electricity system can meet the challenge with clean energy community microgrids, the logical next step in California’s remarkable history of energy innovation.”
– Ellie Cohen CEO, The Climate Center
The initiative will establish a decentralized power system of community microgrids built from the bottom up with clean power and storage to reduce the number of outages both planned and unplanned. This system will enable utilities to better target specific outages and to isolate local electricity generation from the larger grid. This would ensure that essential governmental, health, and other services would remain powered in communities during outages and give priority to lower-income communities.
“While it’s nice to have goals to get to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, that’s inadequate to meet the challenges that this state, and I argue this nation, faces, we’re going to have to fast-track our efforts. We’re going to have to be more aggressive in terms of meeting our goals much sooner.”
– Gov. Gavin Newsom, Governor, State of California
Through a proceeding currently underway, the California Public Utilities Commission has an immediate opportunity to meet this moment and increase access to clean, proven microgrid solutions that will enhance climate resiliency and energy reliability in an equitable way.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) should fast track efforts to adopt tariffs that effectively support the rapid development and deployment of customer-owned and community microgrids statewide.
Clean energy microgrids are the logical next step in California’s history of energy policy innovation. And California businesses are prepared to invest in microgrids to provide safe and reliable power for local communities, but they need a regulatory framework that doesn’t penalize them for doing so and supports access, choice and flexibility. New market rules for clean and smart microgrids can offer a blueprint for engaging local governments and the communities they serve in creating a clean, resilient, more affordable, and equitable electricity system. By increasing access to clean, microgrid technologies our state will be able to achieve its clean air goals and protect public health especially at a time when a worsening pandemic is disproportionately affecting disadvantaged communities.
What people are saying about clean microgrids
“The state must do more and faster to prevent future outages as we continue to work to transform energy generation in our state to achieve our necessary goals to combat climate change.” Gov. Gavin Newsom, Governor, State of California
“Businesses, healthcare advocates and community organizations all agree that using microgrids, clean energy, fuel cells, storage and other options can provide safe, clean, reliable and locally generated energy to keep the power on during emergencies.” Fran Pavley, Former California State Assemblymember and Senator
“We need the California Public Utilities Commission to fast-track its current microgrid rulemaking to accelerate microgrid commercialization. This means modifying fee structures, tariffs, rules and standards to send appropriate market signals so local entities can create their own clean, reliable solutions rather than waiting for investor-owned utilities like PG&E.” Ellie Cohen, CEO, The Climate Center
“Now, more than ever, with the added specter of extreme heat waves and rolling outages, we don’t need microgrid pilot programs, we need robust microgrid deployment.” Henry Stern, CA State Senator, 27th District
“California simply cannot accept the risk of having to live with on-again, off-again electrical power. We must build greater resiliency into the system, and we need to move beyond the 20th century back-up technology of inefficient, dirty, diesel-powered emergency generators.” Tim Edwards, President, CAL FIRE Firefighters