PG&E is the poster child for a dysfunctional utility. It is doing deliberate blackouts to avoid possibility of fires because they haven’t done maintenance on power lines. Even worse, their CEO says blackouts could last for years. (Gosh, we’re sorry, he says, now let me go pay myself millions more in bonuses.) San Jose wants to create their own utility, and microgrids would be a major way they would do it.
Microgrids are Non-Wires Alternatives (NWAs). Electricity is generated locally on distributed grids and does not come on long-distance transmissions lines. This saves money on infrastructure, plus the local microgrid is more flexible and resilient. San Jose would probably install local PV solar everywhere, with lots of battery storage. This could easily provide much of their power, and any additional needed power would be bought on the open market.
A big advantage is is the major grid has an outage, a microgrid can detach itself from it and keep generating power. It has to detach during an outage because if it didn’t it would send power upstream and that could hurt or kill people repairing the damage on the grid.
From Green Energy Corp.
A microgrid is a small-scale power production and delivery system comprising distributed generation facilities co-located with the loads they serve. Microgrids encompass multiple types of energy generation resources, storage systems, and efficiency programs,
allowing for optimal utilization of renewable energy resources and facilitating advanced energy management, demand response, and load reduction solutions.
Microgrids are able to be connected to the utility grid to purchase power from the grid or sell power back to the grid as conditions dictate. Microgrids can be designed to operate “islanded” when the utility grid is not available.
[Mayor] Liccardo drafted a memo that will go before San Jose’s rules committee next week asking staff to investigate creating a city-owned utility to develop independent power systems such as microgrids, as well as other less draconian short and long-term measures that would protect the city from future shutdowns. “PG&E faces financial and repetitional liability for wildfires, but very uncertain liability, if any, for lost lives and livelihoods resulting from lengthy blackouts,” the memo states.
“PG&E’s ostensible exposure to only one side of the risk equation puts the well-being and safety of millions of Californians on the other side…It’s time to explore a San Jose without PG&E”