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Dark Days Ahead in the PGE Dark Age

 

A website Willyweather tracks wind levels from the NOAA data. Moderate wind levels combined with Red Flag warnings have been enough for PGE to shutoff power to about 2 million people. Red Flag Warnings are common and those warnings have not caused other electrical utilities to have major power shutdowns. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), Roseville Electric Utility and Alameda Electric provide power in the same area and they continue to provide power to customers. PGE is trying to protect itself because they have $30 billion in liability from fires that they caused over the last two years from poorly

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Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Oct 11, 2019 10:42 pm GMT

We should see a boom in sales of Tesla Powerwall units or their competitors. At least if the producers can get their hands on enough batteries..

PG&E really needs to be investing in better transmission infrastructure. We should be switching to high voltage DC for transmission anyway for efficiency, and routing it underground in areas of high fire hazard.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 15, 2019 2:16 pm GMT

This would have been terrifically sound advice several years back, but I wonder if it's realistic now given the financial situation PG&E finds itself in? Of course the end goal is still just as desirable, it just seems that the wildfire/bankruptcy etc. situation is unfortunately taken some of their options of the table temporarily. What are your thoughts?

Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Oct 16, 2019 5:39 am GMT

A lot of things that are unrealistic under business-as-usual manage to get done when the stakes are high enough. The stakes here are very high. 

Something needs to be done. We can't continue shutting off power to a region whenever there's a high risk of fire. PG&E might no longer be in a position to fund the required overhaul; the state may have to step in with special allocations or bonds, and squeeze PG&E for repayment. But however it's funded, it would create jobs in local communities and remove ugly scars from the landscape. 

Sure, we could prod grid oerators to move faster in the direction of microgrids with storage, and that might make shutoff of selected lines less disruptive. But that's not incompatible with buried DC power transmission. The DC systems, in fact, make it easier to integrate and manage pools of distributed resources.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 16, 2019 2:12 pm GMT

Something needs to be done. We can't continue shutting off power to a region whenever there's a high risk of fire. PG&E might no longer be in a position to fund the required overhaul; the state may have to step in with special allocations or bonds, and squeeze PG&E for repayment. But however it's funded, it would create jobs in local communities and remove ugly scars from the landscape

Well said, Roger. Thanks for the response. 

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