The outages last year were publicized across the nation. This year – PG&E is trying to be proactive to find ways to ensure high wildfire risk zones can keep the lights on while they manage the routing of power to reduce wildfire risk.
However, solar and battery storage groups and environmental activists aren’t letting PG&E deploy natural gas based generators to ensure resiliency – citing that it doesn’t help get California closer to their aggressive renewable energy goals.
But, the cost of this push is that PG&E is now going to have to deploy standby diesel generators – which are far worse than Natural Gas. Causing significantly higher pollution levels, at least for this year.
The argument as to why this would be better than Natural Gas is because it is only a temporary fix, whereas putting in a Natural Gas Backup generator would be more permanent and would buy the utility more time to work on grid modernization. Which in it of it self also proves why going the diesel route is inherently bad for both the environment and resiliency. Increased emissions and a temporary fix to a problem that is going to require over a decade of work and development to modernize the grid properly, even in high risk zones.
Natural gas still remains our best source of energy to ensure 100% up time alongside renewables. Until hydrogen becomes a viable source, anything other than natural gas as a backup source of energy is going to be tough to justify across the board.
The hope is that this wildfire season doesn’t set a precedent for how to combat resiliency gaps across the nation.