Fire season is upon us. Due to California’s recent storms, there are multiple thousand-acre fires across the state that are threating homes, business, and utility infrastructure. This is nothing new from previous fire seasons in California but as time progresses, we learn new ways and methods to adapt to these conditions in the short term. During 2020, all California utilities have put huge efforts into helping customers prepare for a variety of potential outcomes from temporary blackouts, short term loss of power, and long-term loss of power due to damage or disconnection within the grid. This is due to the California Public Utility Commissions (CPUC) passing legislation to allow utilities to de-energize power lines in order to protect public safety.
This legislation has prompted the larger utilities to create robust safety protocols and process to avoid potentially starting new fires and reducing spread of existing ones. This Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) provides residential, commercial, and industrial customers the forewarning of any electrical or natural gas impacts they may experience with multiple day notice. There are various resources provided such as service maps, text alerts, safety information, and more on their websites
So, what can utility customers due if their power will be shut off? Most companies will view power shutoffs as downtime where no work can be performed and therefore loss of profits. However, during this time maintenance, repairs, deferred maintenance, retrofits, and upgrades can be planned and scheduled to reduce downtime when power returns. Tenant space modification can be performed as most areas will be unoccupied.
The topic of energy resilience has become a very important focus for customer which has led to securing backup generators, solar generation, or other onsite generation. These technologies allow the facilities to continue operation during temporary blackouts and reduce their utility costs throughout the year. Companies in areas prone to power shutoffs should consider developing an energy resilience plan. The first steps to developing a plan depend on your type of facility, but may include technology feasibility studies, backup power research and bid comparison, energy and billing assessment, and a site energy balance. If you would like to know more about how to get started with a resilience plan, send us an email at Info@ERIpacific.com.