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California 550 MW virtual power plant would be the biggest yet

by Dan Gearino, InsideClimateNews


Highlights

  • Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners and OlmConnect have collaborated on a virtual power plant project titled Resi-Station
  • Resi-Station would use batteries at homes and businesses in California to act like a 550-megawatt power plant, becoming the largest virtual power plant in the world
  • This power can be used as backup in the case of power shut-offs, wildfire risks, and other outages
  • The project kicks off in 2021, starting with 150,000 OlmConnect customers and should be fully built by 2023

Community Energy Resilience through clean energy microgrids is a key pillar in The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign.


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/10122020/inside-clean-energy-fossil-fuel-power-plants/

Utilities commission must act to encourage clean energy microgrids

by P.J. Quesada, CalMatters


Highlights

  • Many Californians are experiencing the negative health effects associated with dirty energy pollution
  • To combat this, the California Public Utilities Commission should advance a regulatory framework for more microgrids throughout the state, especially for essential businesses 
  • California ok’d the use of diesel powered generators during power shutoffs that occur during wildfire season, therefore allowing more air pollution
  • The microgrid installed at Ramar Foods in California has avoided 1 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions since 2013 and plans to offset over 333,000 more pounds of carbon with upgrades to their microgrid

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. The Climate Center has launched an initiative for equitable clean and smart microgrids to build Community Energy Resilience as part of our Climate-Safe California campaign.


Read More: https://calmatters.org/commentary/my-turn/2020/10/utilities-commission-must-act-to-encourage-clean-energy-microgrids/

ACT electric vehicles to help stabilize power grid in first Australian research trial of its kind

by Craig Allen and Marcus Mannheim, ABC News Australia


Highlights

  • The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government is providing 50 Nissan Leaf vehicles in efforts to see if the fleet can help maintain the electricity grid through blackouts
  • The Leafs have a two-way battery, meaning they can both be charged from the grid and provide power to the grid
  • This resilience effort comes after massive brushfires knocked out powerlines, causing blackouts
  • Australia’s main source of energy is black coal, while renewable energies like solar, hydro, and wind slowly come on to the grid
  • Todd Eagles, executive director of utility company ActewAGL, says electric vehicles are going to very important to Australia’s energy future.

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Platform includes an initiative for Community Energy Resilience with clean microgrids that can employ “batteries on wheels” for energy storage.


Read More: https://amp-abc-net-au.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/amp.abc.net.au/article/12436224

solar by Stacey Meinzen

Climate Center and partners: New Utility Reform and Clean Energy Resilience bills

URGENT: Have your organization sign on here to support utility reform and clean community energy resilience. Individuals, please reach out to your state elected officials here.

A key priority of The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe CA effort is to advance the ability of local governments to create fossil fuel-free, safe, resilient and accessible local electricity systems.

Technology advances — including rapidly-declining costs for solar and battery storage — are making it possible to build an entirely new decentralized, integrated electricity grid.  This will require utility regulatory reform and new funding to empower local governments to be in charge of siting decisions about new energy infrastructure, rather than communities having decisions imposed upon them by distant corporate decisionmakers. Governor Newsom recently articulated some of the needed principles for this vision, echoing policy proposals that have been recommended by The Climate Center and partner organizations.

The Climate Center, in collaboration with Advanced Community Energy (ACE) initiative partners, recently advanced two bills in the California legislature to achieve these policy priorities:

  • SB 1314  (Introduced by Senator Bill Dodd). The Community Energy Resilience Act requires the Strategic Growth Council to develop and implement a grant program for local governments interested in developing clean energy-based community energy resilience plans.
    • Why the bill is needed: Climate change-driven drought and fire conditions, along with dangerously outdated electricity infrastructure, led to costly power shutoffs in 2019. In the wake of last year’s disasters and facing future shutoffs, utilities and local governments are scrambling to find solutions that keep the electricity flowing. Unfortunately, dirty fossil fuel back-up generators are being installed in towns, businesses and community facilities across the state. These short-term electricity sources are counter to state goals for greenhouse gas reductions, environmental protection, and public health and safety. Today’s cost-effective, clean and decentralized clean energy resources can provide a better solution:  when grid power is down, microgrids can disconnect from the larger grid to provide reliable clean power to key facilities such as fire stations and schools.  SB 1314 would initially prioritize funding lower-income communities in fire prone regions to plan for clean energy resilience. For additional information, see the recently released report by Vote Solar as well as the Community Energy Resilience Act Budget Request Letter submitted to legislators by The Climate Center and partners.
  • SB 1240 (Introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner). This bill would require the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the California Independent System Operator (which manages the flow of electricity into and across the state), to identify and evaluate options for transforming the electricity distribution system to becoming an open local electricity market.
    • Why the bill is needed: The basic architecture of our electricity system hasn’t changed over the past hundred years, notwithstanding substantial technological advancements.  Power no longer flows one way, from distant large power plants to cities and homes. It is now possible for power to flow back and forth locally within a distribution system.    With the implementation of the state’s renewable energy goals, the growth of smart appliances and electric vehicles, and dramatically declining prices for clean energy, a cleaner, decentralized grid is now possible – which would require substantial changes in how our electricity system is managed. This new legislation, if passed, would speed the transition to a 21st century decentralized and clean electricity system. For additional information, read this Vox article.

We are grateful to Senators Dodd and Skinner for their leadership.  To help secure passage, we need organizations across California to register their support for these two bills.   Click here to add your organization to the list of supporters.