This week, hundreds of thousands of California households braced for the prospect of losing power for days as major utilities across the state issued warnings of potential shutoffs to prevent their disaster-prone grid from causing fires. It’s an unsettling time and our thoughts are with everyone impacted.
Photo Credit: Scott Strazzante / SF Chronicle
PG&E admitted that they were not adequately prepared for mass outages that have affected over 700,000 customers.
In the new abnormal of increasingly destructive wildfires and other climate-related disasters, more and more Californians want to use to solar paired with battery storage to be able to maintain power in these times of crisis.
These clean options can serve the dual purposes of replacing unhealthy diesel-powered generators at our homes and businesses and reducing the need for the kind of long-distance power lines that have been a cause of many of California’s most devastating fires in the first place.
At Vote Solar, we’re committed to making these and other solar-powered options affordable and accessible to every Californian who wants them.
Solar with storage is one of the most powerful new tools in our resiliency toolkit, so why are our utilities – the same ones that can’t keep the lights on – continuing to try to make it harder for families and businesses to go solar?
Case in point: San Diego’s SDG&E – which had 30,000 households potentially impacted by shutoffs – is asking the California Public Utilities Commission to approve a $10 per month fixed charge and quadrupling of the minimum bill to $29, which would mean hefty new costs that customers would bear regardless of how much power they consume.
So, while it’s bad for everyone, it would especially harm low-usage customers including low-income families and people who are using solar and efficiency measures to reduce the amount of power they buy from the utility.
This latest proposal is just the latest of many utility-driven efforts designed to keep Californians dependent on their outdated centralized system when the opportunities for a more resilient and customer-centric clean energy path forward shine so bright.
Today California leads the nation in both solar installations and jobs. Families, businesses and public facilities are increasingly using storage technology to bottle that solar power to maintain power when the grid goes down. For example, Santa Rita Union School District, which serves low-income communities near Salinas, has installed solar-plus-storage backup power at several of its public schools, ready to provide clean power indefinitely during outages.
The California Public Utilities Commission recently adopted a new incentive to make energy storage more affordable for low-income and disadvantaged households, as well as critical facilities like first responders, in high-fire-risk neighborhoods.
California should be doing everything it can to continue to make these kinds of clean energy options accessible to customers, especially those who can least afford to lose power.
This week’s outages prove the importance of putting clean energy directly in the hands of California’s families and communities — and our utilities should not be allowed to get in the way.
Thanks to all who are with us in the movement to lead California and our nation toward a cleaner, more resilient energy tomorrow. And be safe out there, everyone.