PG&E Gets Approval for Microgrid Proposal from California Commission

The comprehensive and cost-effective microgrid proposals by PG&E, designed to reduce the number of customers affected by PSPS event has been approved.

PG&E Microgrid

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved the Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) comprehensive and cost-effective microgrid proposals, which are designed to reduce the number of customers affected by Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events and mitigate the impacts to those who remain affected.

A PSPS may be used when severe weather threatens a portion of the electric system and PG&E determines it’s necessary to turn off electricity to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire.

With the increased wildfire threat in California, PG&E is enhancing and expanding its efforts to reduce wildfire risks and keep its customers and communities safe. High temperatures, extreme dryness and record-high winds create conditions where any spark at the wrong time and place could lead to a major wildfire.

PG&E’s Community Wildfire Safety Program includes short-, medium- and long-term plans to make its electric system safer. These plans include installing new grid technology, hardening the electric system, and performing enhanced vegetation management, all with the goal of making PSPS events smaller in size, shorter in length, and smarter for customers. Microgrids are one tool in these efforts.

“As PG&E continues our enhanced and expanded efforts to reduce wildfire risks, we are also working to reduce the scope, duration and impact of future PSPS events. A key piece of this strategy is developing and deploying microgrids,” said Andy Vesey, Utility CEO and President.

For 2020, PG&E’s microgrid solutions focus primarily on building grid resilience and keeping the power on for customers in communities that have a high likelihood of experiencing a future PSPS event. To that end, PG&E has reserved more than 450 megawatts of temporary mobile generation to be deployed in four ways detailed below, each with a unique objective:

Substation microgrids: PG&E will use temporary generation at safe-to-energise substations to support safe-to-energise customers and communities affected by transmission line outages during PSPS events. PG&E is preparing 63 substations to be ready to connect temporary generators as the need arises during PSPS events, subject to operational logistics and generator availability.

Temporary microgrids: PG&E will serve designated areas like “main street” corridors by rapidly isolating them from the wider grid and re-energising them using a temporary generation during an outage. These temporary microgrids will be used in selected communities where PG&E can safely provide electricity to centrally located resources such as medical facilities and pharmacies, police and fire stations, gas stations, and banks. Construction is underway at four temporary microgrid generation sites, and PG&E anticipates having 10 sites ready to energize by the end of 2020.

Backup power support: PG&E will deploy temporary generation on an as-needed basis to critical customers for whom the failure of existing backup power would directly or indirectly affect public safety.

Community Resource Centers: PG&E will provide Community Resource Centers to support customers and communities affected by PSPS events. Some of these facilities may need temporary generation in order to give customers a climate-controlled location where they can charge devices and receive refreshments.

Recently, we had reported that the utility had requested approval of five energy storage projects totaling 423 megawatts (MW), in a filing with the CPUC. With the objective of the projects being to further integrate clean energy from renewable generation sources while ensuring future reliability of the electric system. The five projects feature lithium-ion battery energy storage systems (BESS), each with a four-hour discharge duration. The new systems will either be co-located with solar or geothermal plants or be built as part of new energy storage projects.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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