Preparing for Disaster While Making Electricity

By Microgrid Resources Coalition posted 18 days ago


Heather Smith, Sierra


Humboldt County, California, is at the end of the line, electrically speaking. Earthquakes, floods, landslides, and wildfires cut off utilities—and roads—into the area. PG&E, the state's largest utility, has begun preemptively cutting power when the fire risk along the path of its transmission lines is high.

So, Redwood Coast Energy Authority, a coalition of local governments working on sustainable energy projects, teamed up with Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University to build a microgrid to keep the power on for critical operations—and sell electricity directly to local ratepayers when all is well.

A microgrid is complicated for technological and legal reasons. When this one is completed in 2021, it will be the first of its kind and a working example of how other regions can subsidize disaster preparedness by getting into the renewable energy business.

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