Following the devastating wildfires in the last three wildfire seasons, California has been pursuing many initiatives to increase resilience in wildfire vulnerable communities and reduce the impact of public safety power shutoffs.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is focusing on utilizing the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) to promote resilience in wildfire vulnerable communities. SGIP funds are meant to provide funding for customer side disturbed energy resources in California, including energy storage systems, wind turbines, waste heat to power, and fuel cells. The CPUC recently approved an additional $830 million for the SGIP, bringing the total funding to $1.2 billion. The proposal also expanded the original parameters of the SGIP eligibility criteria to specifically include wildfire vulnerable communities effected by public safety power shut off events.
PG&E has been focusing on microgrids to reduce the impact of public safety power shut offs in wildfire vulnerable communities. In December 2019, PG&E issued a request for offers for distributed generation-enabled microgrid services that could power targeted locations during future safety shut-offs, as well as provide broader reliability to its electric system. PG&E intends to deploy 300 MW of temporary generation for the upcoming wildfire season, most of which will be met by microgrids.
In the 2020 State of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker highlighted Massachusetts Municipal Vulnerability Program (MVP). The MVP provides support for municipalities and cities to begin planning for resiliency. So far 285 communities have joined the program and Gov. Baker intends to extend that to all 351 communities in the commonwealth. Gov. Baker pledged to invest over $1 billion in climate resiliency by 2022.
The MVP has been a great opportunity for the state to encourage cities and municipalities to think critically about what resilience means for their territory, assess vulnerabilities and create an action plan to begin to improve resilience. The MVP is split into two parts. The first utilizes planning grants to help municipalities and cities pursue a community-led planning process to identify vulnerabilities to resilience and priority actions. After a municipality has completed the planning process, they are eligible to receive an action grant. The action grants are used to help cities implement projects identified during the planning process. In 2019, Massachusetts added energy resilience projects as a new project type for these action grants to incorporate resilience-enabling technologies such as energy storage, distributed generation energy management systems, black start, islanding technology, and microgrids.
In mid-2019, Oregon published the Oregon Guidebook for Local Energy Resilience. The guide was created to help consumer-owned utilities (public power and rural electric cooperatives) and their communities improve resilience by improving business continuity planning, developing a framework to prioritize investments in distributed energy resources, and improving their coordination with federal and state emergency management planning. The guidebook addresses a range of solutions, from personnel preparedness and facility hardening to grid modernization and microgrid deployment.
The guidebook and its companion website serve as a centralized resource for local utilities that identifies existing local energy resilience efforts in the state and across the country, highlights innovative projects and practices, and offers suggestions for incremental actions that can be taken.
The Texas legislature passed a pair of bills to strengthen the state’s electric grid security. SB 475 establishes the Texas Electric Grid Security Council to “facilitate the creation, aggregation, coordination, and dissemination of best security practices for the electric industry.” The three-member council will have the ability to create and disseminate grid security best practices, revise the state emergency plan to ensure coordinated restoration efforts, and prepare for grid-related security threats. SB 936 creates a cybersecurity monitor program through the public utility commission (PUC). The monitor will manage a comprehensive cybersecurity outreach program, gather and disseminate best practices around electricity cybersecurity, review utility voluntary cybersecurity self-assessments, and report to the PUC about electric utility industry cybersecurity preparedness level. The bill also directs the PUC to allow the recovery of reasonable and necessary costs related to findings/activities of the cybersecurity monitor.