California Utility regulators approve Community Microgrid expansion by PG&E

Dec. 1, 2021
Communities anywhere in PG&E’s service area will be able to pursue microgrids

The California Public Utilities Commission has granted approval to Pacific Gas and Electric Company to update its Community Microgrid Enablement Tariff and expand the eligibility requirements for connecting microgrids to PG&E’s electric distribution infrastructure.

The approval means communities in PG&E’s service area will be able to pursue a microgrid as part of their energy resilience plans. Earlier, community microgrids were only allowed in CPUC-designated High Fire Threat Districts.

“Microgrids are a critical part of the sustainability and climate-resilience goals of many of our customers and hometowns," PG&E’s director of grid planning and innovation, Quinn Nakayama, said. "By expanding the rules around where these microgrids can be built, we’re able to remove barriers that would have prevented projects from moving forward, and instead work collaboratively to make these projects a reality.”

The expanded eligibility builds upon PG&E’s Community Microgrid Enablement Program, launched in April 2021 to support the development of microgrids centered around critical facilities in high-fire threat areas.

To date, PG&E has engaged with more than three dozen communities and customers to explore potential financial and infrastructure support options for developing microgrids and resilience solutions through the CMEP.

 “We strongly support PG&E’s leadership around microgrids and the innovative ways they are meeting the needs of customers. More microgrids, whether they’re in Silicon Valley or the Central Valley, mean a more sustainable and resilient energy future for all. It is our hope that other utilities will follow PG&E’s lead and seek to partner with customers and communities to build the consumer-driven resilient grid of the future,” said Alexa Arena, senior director of large-scale developments at Google and a 2021 Silicon Valley Business Journal Woman of Influence.

 PG&E is already working with the University of California, Berkeley on Oakland EcoBlock to demonstrate a net-zero energy, block-level microgrid. The work at EcoBlock will include implementing energy efficiency measures in participating homes, deploying a solar-powered microgrid and shared EVs and adopting a new approach to coordinating these resources.