On Friday, RCRC submitted comments to the CPUC on a draft implementation plan PG&E, SCE (Southern California Edison), and SDG&E (San Diego Gas & Electric) submitted as part of their microgrid incentive program (MIP).
Previously, the CPUC allocated $200 million in ratepayer funding for the large three IOUs to develop a MIP, which will provide up to $15 million in funding per microgrid project. These microgrids are intended to increase local energy resiliency and promote overall grid reliability.
Under the draft Implementation Plan, utilities will award grants to build microgrids in areas: with high fire risk; that have experienced multiple PSPS events; in an earthquake zone; or with lower electrical reliability. Projects, including critical facilities, must benefit low-income census tracts, federally recognized tribal communities, CalEnviroScreen Communities, or “rural areas.”
RCRC’s made many suggestions to ensure effective use of scarce ratepayer resources, including ensuring that microgrid projects be deployed in those areas at greatest risk of electrical disruption. Those suggestions include:
Aligning definitions for low-income communities with other statutory programs (80% median income);
Ensuring that the definition of “rural area” doesn’t exclude large rural swaths of RCRC member counties;
Making projects that serve non-federally recognized tribal communities eligible for funding;
Ensuring that PSPS-specific utility mitigation projects do not prejudice local microgrid proposals that provide multi-incident resiliency; and,
Decreasing the number of points awarded for ancillary environmental benefits relative to those awarded based on community risk.
RCRC also stressed that several new utility microgrids – including those in El Dorado, Butte, and Tuolumne Counties - need to be modified so they can provide local electrical resiliency during unplanned outages and severe weather events.
For more information, contact John Kennedy, RCRC Policy Advocate.