Sacramento Business Journal – Another Voice: Advanced energy storage technologies must be the new normal
Power outages have become an unavoidable part of our lives. Increasingly frequent extreme weather events, combined with the public safety power shutoffs in California, are causing homes and businesses to go without electricity for extended periods — and it’s costly.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that power outages are costing American businesses around $150 billion per year. And in California, it is estimated that to date the blackouts have caused over $2.5 billion in economic losses to the state. While the focus of our electric power industry is on near-term actions to ensure safety, the industry and policy makers must also quickly advance solutions that move from the old centralized design of the electric power grid to a greater reliance on local distributed solutions so that business can continue as usual at all times.
Under the current paradigm, centralized power plants transmit energy over long distances. This means that a loss in service at a far-off point on the grid can result in local outages, as we have seen with the recent public safety power shutoffs. Distributed energy systems, in contrast, generate electricity closer to the people and businesses who use it. The technology exists to provide more resilient electric power service to a wider range of customers within a local community when the electricity from the bulk power system is unavailable during a disaster, such as a fire, flood or a hurricane, and during non-emergency times, too.