Solar and Home Batteries Power On During SDG&E Blackouts
See How Sunrun Can Help You Take Control of Your Energy When You Need it Most
Wildfires in California are becoming increasingly common, and these frequent events are challenging the state’s aging power grid. While households once took safe, reliable, power for granted, they must now regularly plan for loss of electricity and threats to life and property during hazardous conditions. Residents on the urban-wilderness interface are particularly vulnerable. The 2018 wildfires, started by active Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) power lines,1 affected millions of Californians and killed 86 people in the town of Paradise, Calif.2
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and other major California utility companies have begun to implement preemptive measures across their service areas. In times of high fire danger, they may impose rolling blackouts to temporarily de-energize the power grid. These shutoffs can affect millions of customers and leave entire communities in the dark for days.4
With wildfires now occurring year-round, households must look to new means for powering their homes. Many are recognizing the vital role solar energy can play in providing backup electricity during blackouts caused by wildfires.
Sunrun offers residential solar systems to supply electricity to homes during outages, whenever they occur. Our Brightbox battery storage can keep your lights on and give you peace of mind.5 Installing solar as backup energy is a smart investment that strengthens your household’s emergency plan.
What Is a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS)?
Utility companies are granted general authority by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to de-energize the electric grid for protecting public safety and maintaining the grid’s viability.6 SDG&E has initiated its Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) outage policy. A PSPS is a rolling blackout that serves as a last line of defense against electric service disruption and potential harm to communities caused by utility equipment during extreme conditions.
SDG&E now regularly monitors wildfire conditions to determine when a PSPS outage is needed. If possible, it will notify customers of an impending blackout. However, these events may still occur with minimal warning and last for days. Consumers should prepare today for an uncertain energy future.
Here are key elements of SDG&E’s response system in the hazardous conditions that can trigger a PSPS outage:7
- Wildfire Condition Monitoring. SDG&E has the largest utility-owned weather monitoring network in the U.S. It includes 180 weather stations in fire-prone areas that provide real-time data on wind speed, humidity and temperature to help them make informed decisions on days of high fire risk.
- Fire Potential Index. SDG&E developed this tool based on current weather conditions and the moisture content of vegetation to rate daily fire potential in service areas. The index is shared with emergency managers, first responders and other stakeholders.
- Segmenting Circuits. SDG&E has implemented an operational procedure that helps reduce the number of customers impacted by a blackout. Using additional weather stations and electrical devices, the company can divide electric circuits into smaller sections, reduce fire risk and keep power on in larger service areas.
- Safe Power Restoration. SDG&E line workers visually inspect all impacted power lines during daylight after the most dangerous conditions have passed. Their electric grid is not re-energized until it is ensured that any significant wildfire damage or risk has been resolved. Power restoration isn’t immediate.
Plan for the Future With Sunrun
A home solar system with battery storage can insulate you from the disruption of PSPS blackouts. When an outage occurs, your battery turns on to divert electricity to your critical home appliances. You can rest assured that your refrigerator, water pump and garage door opener stay powered up when the grid goes down. It’s little wonder that home solar battery installations in the U.S. have increased more than 200% annually during the past four years, and rapid growth is expected going forward.8
Households adopting solar are prepared for any blackout. No need for noisy, polluting generators that require frequent maintenance. Sunrun’s solar panels with battery storage is a proven solution9 that will ensure your household a safe, reliable source of electricity for years to come.
Here are five major advantages of a residential solar system with a Brightbox battery:
1. Control of energy use. Solar home batteries store electricity produced by your solar panels so you can use it when you need it most — during power outages.
2. Lower electric bills. Drawing less electricity from the grid can mean lower utility bills.10 Battery storage offers the additional benefit of providing electricity after sundown and during peak-rate hours.8
3. Less strain on energy infrastructure. Use of solar energy reduces the amount of electricity pulled from the grid.11 This lower power load maintains safer circuit tolerances for a longer time, giving grid operators and emergency responders more time to manage outages and wildfires.12 Installing more solar energy systems lowers the threat of wide-spread outages.
4. Reduced wildfire risk. Overhead power lines can potentially spark wildfires. Upgrading California’s existing electric grid to mitigate the risk may take decades and cost tens of billions of dollars.8 However, reducing dependence on the grid via solar will immediately reduce the chance of future wildfires.
5. A cleaner environment. Solar gives you the freedom to control and create your own clean energy and protect the planet for future generations. Sunrun has prevented 3.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to eliminating 9 billion passenger vehicle miles or recycling 1.3 million tons of waste. Solar technology provides a way to decarbonize our electricity system.8
Contact Sunrun to learn how to protect yourself during a blackout. Check out our report: Building A More Resilient Grid.13 When you’re ready to talk to a solar advisor, we’re here to help.
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