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March 23, 2020   |  


PG&E, SCE abandon big microgrid plans for temporary emergency measures as wildfire season nears

California's plans to use microgrids to limit the 2020 impacts of preventive power outages will be delayed after utility solicitations revealed cost and deployment complexities.

The top priority of a California microgrid proceeding is to reduce impacts on customers of the public safety power shutoffs (PSPS), implemented by the utilities to reduce wildfire risks. But bids in response to solicitations by the state's two biggest investor-owned utilities (IOUs) found only temporary microgrid deployments are financially viable and none will meet clean energy advocates' call for including customer-owned distributed energy resources (DER).

The utilities want to place fossil fuel generators at priority substations "for powering the communities behind them," Senior Public Policy Director and Deputy General Counsel Melissa Brandt of community choice aggregator (CCA) East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) told Utility Dive. The other approach, from clean energy advocates, would "maximize the local benefit" and "protect California's climate goals."

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