Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has begun Public Safety Power Shutdowns, with the first phase affecting just over 500,000 households, the second phase affecting 234,000, and the third phase affecting 4,000. Between 110,000 and 130,000 households have had their power turned back on. The below map, found on this address search website provided by PG&E, shows the regions affected. The company’s Twitter account shows available Community Resource Centers that will remain open during daylight hours with restrooms, bottled water, electronic-device charging, and a/c seating for up to 100.
This article will outline some potential solutions to keep electricity on while Public Safety Power Shutdowns are ongoing.
First, a warning – only a small, single digit percentage of the nation’s over 2 million solar power plants are designed to stay on when the broader power grid shuts down. This feature – called “anti-islanding” – was put in place to protect line workers from electrocution due to solar power systems feeding the grid during power outage events.
AC coupled energy storage
For those of you with a currently installed solar power system of the standard nature, it might be best to consider an AC-coupled energy storage solution. Solutions like this can be found by sonnen, Tesla, Sunrun and others. These solutions, when sized and installed appropriately, can run your home when the grid shuts down.
The sonnenbatterie by Sonnen – probably the most advanced energy storage management solution we have available to residential customers – offers 3 to 8 kW of instant power, and 5 to 15 kWh of energy storage in various products. The hardware has intelligence to predict when power outages might be coming, and manages itself to maximize available electricity. As well, you can program the system to shut down all plugs that aren’t considered mission critical.
The Tesla Powerwall is also in this class of products with its single offering that peaks at 5 kW power output, and 13.5 kWh of energy storage. Tesla recommends two units to meet daily consumption needs. This is because an average American home uses 30 kWh/day – so any of these units will have to be used judiciously. If a homeowner does in fact have solar power (and it isn’t needed for these units to run), then potentially, they can power themselves perpetually.
SimpliPhi offers their battery solutions coupled with inverters from off-grid manufacturers – but these would have to be installed at the time of original install. However, they can be added in relatively simply as they come in a clean package.