PG&E power shutoffs enhance the need for resilience

By | October 9, 2019

This week, California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, is shutting off power for thousands of customers, including highly populated regions like the Bay Area, Napa, and Sonoma County. The move is part of PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff program, which was rolled out this year by the utility to reduce wildfire risk. With heavy winds this week, PG&E warned that over 30 counties may have their power turned off for multiple days to ensure fire hazard is minimized.  

On November 8, 2018 the largest and deadliest wildfire in CA history, the Camp Fire, killed 85 people, destroyed 19,000 structures, and created $30B in liabilities. Cal Fire confirmed the root cause of the event was PG&E owned and operated transmission lines. In response, PG&E faces the difficult choice of curtailing retail electricity services, or causing another major wildfire event.  

Two of Northern California’s most productive agriculture centers, Sonoma and Napa Counties, are targets for this week’s PG&E blackouts. With fall grape harvest well underway, timing couldn’t be more problematic for North Bay businesses. During harvest, grapes must be crushed, separated, filtered, chilled, and processed to produce wine. Losing power during these critical operations could impact billions of dollars worth of wine production.

For facilities seeking continuity in their operations, moving beyond utility provided power has become a compelling option. To satisfy this need, Stem developed the Athena Backup Power offering, a 100% automated, intelligent energy storage solution that transfers backup power to a facility’s critical loads in under 200 milliseconds. Facilities no longer need to store fuel onsite, or burn high carbon emitting diesel fuel, to ensure business continuity. It’s capable of dispatch from 5 minutes to 8 hours. The solution requires no manual transfer, increases worker safety, eliminates human error, and protects critical equipment for damage. Most importantly, it results in zero disruption to critical operations and daily customer service.

Vulnerable populations with critical need for continuous power will also soon have greater access to storage-enabled backup power. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently expanded incentives for energy storage through the  Equity Resiliency budget of the Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). Qualifying facilities include local and state governments and agencies, educational institutions, non-profits, and low-income multi-family housing, located within low-income communities, and Indian Tribal Lands. Stem’s Backup Power offering will deliver economic savings and resiliency, at low or no costs to customers through the SGIP Equity Resiliency program.

In light of the heightened risk of power outages, partnering with Stem is a simple and cost-effective approach to meet your facility’s continuous business needs.  Stem’s Backup Power solutions can serve critical loads at facilities, and also support participation in the SGIP Equity Resiliency program. In addition to backup power, Stem’s Athena solutions provide additional value, including demand charge management and time-of-use energy shifting, all reducing overall energy expenditure. The total benefits of onsite storage from Stem ensure business continuity, while delivering ongoing utility bill savings. Serving over 300 customers across 1,000+ systems, Stem is the industry’s #1 energy storage provider, equipped to make your smart energy transformation simple and painless.

Contact Stem today to learn more about strategies for enhancing resilience for your organization.