With hashtag#poweroutages predicted to continue, the potential for wildfires has sparked an interest in flexible power solutions and hashtag#microgrids near 20 substations across hashtag#California. Are scalable microgrids and distributed generation be an approach to consider?
WITH MORE OUTAGES EXPECTED CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES SPARK INTEREST IN LOCAL POWER
For a few days in October last year, Northern California sat in the dark. California’s largest utility shut off power to more than 2 million people in portions of 17 counties across the San Francisco Bay area in a deliberate attempt to prevent transmission lines from sparking wildfires during autumn’s windy and dry weather.
In rural Humboldt County, the power outages emptied grocery store shelves. ATMs were without cash and cars waited on line for 45 minutes to get gas. Not too far away on a 100-acre reservation, the Blue Lake Hotel and Casino was booked to capacity. Not only did the lights remain on, but its operator, the Blue Lake Rancheria tribe, was able to use its conference room to provide area residents with essential services, such as food, water and communications, as well as a place to entertain themselves and their kids.
Jason Ramos, a member of the Blue Lake Rancheria council, said the tribe “looked like geniuses” for constructing a microgrid in advance some three years ago to keep the reservation operating like it did when the larger regional grid shut down last year. With planned power outages predicted to continue throughout California for the next decade, many communities like Blue Lake Rancheria are considering microgrids to help keep the lights on during a crisis.