Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) has begun construction on a microgrid in Arnold aimed at mitigating the impacts of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).
The microgrid is “designed to provide electricity to certain customers and shared community resources using temporary generation during future PSPS events,” a PG&E press release reads.
The microgrid site in Arnold is located at Ebbetts Pass Fire District Station 1 at 1037 Blagen Road.
“PG&E will be able to rapidly connect mobile generators to the site, allowing the fire station, post office, gas stations, markets, a propane facility, hardware store, restaurants and other facilities and community services to remain energized during future PSPS events impacting the area,” the release reads. “The Arnold temporary microgrid energization zone includes PG&E customers in the general vicinity of Highway 4, extending between Pine Drive and Henry Street.”
The site in Arnold “was identified and selected through an extensive process involving the analysis of prior and expected future PSPS events, along with overall feasibility and other utility work in the region that could reduce PSPS impacts,” the release reads. “The plan for the Arnold temporary microgrid energization zone includes approximately 125 PG&E customers served by underground power lines to be safely energized during a PSPS event.”
Throughout its service area, PG&E already has six microgrid generation sites for use during PSPS events, and is currently developing an additional five sites.
“The Arnold microgrid is one of several sites being developed across PG&E’s service area in 2020-21 as a part of the company’s comprehensive actions to reduce wildfire risks across our system and minimize the impact of public safety outages on our customers and communities,” said Debbie Powell, vice president, Asset and Risk Management, Community Wildfire Safety Program, PG&E, in the release. “Our specific objective with the development of temporary microgrids is to provide electricity to resources such as medical facilities and pharmacies, police and fire stations, gas stations, banks, markets and other shared community services when weather conditions make it unsafe to operate the grid.”
While the site is intended to keep certain customers energized during PSPS events, “weather conditions and other operational considerations prevent PG&E from guaranteeing electricity to all customers potentially served by this temporary microgrid during all PSPS conditions or scenarios,” the release reads.
Construction of the site is expected to be completed by early next year.
“Once the site is operational, PG&E will be able to island customers within the temporary microgrid energization zone during PSPS events,” the release reads. “Islanding refers to the ability of a microgrid to disconnect from the larger power grid: when the power is turned off during a broader grid outage, the area supported by the microgrid may still remain energized and can operate autonomously.”
Crews will follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols during construction.
“PG&E customers in the vicinity of the construction site will receive an automated, courtesy phone call from PG&E notifying them of the work taking place,” the release reads. “Customers who are within the temporary microgrid energization zone will receive a separate communication from PG&E, notifying them of their inclusion in the microgrid and informing them of how it will operate during a PSPS event.”
PG&E has completed construction on microgrid sites in Angwin, Placerville, Shingletown, Calistoga, Clearlake North and Clearlake South, and is in the process of developing sites in Pollock Pines, Arnold, Foresthill, Georgetown and Magalia.