California Fire Season: Roll Out Power, Not Outages
Wildfires are certainly not new to Californians, or new to the Golden State in general. They have become so prevalent to California, that wildfires have become synonymous with its ever-evolving landscape. And so, in consequence, have major power outages and rolling blackouts.
As climate change continues to affect our environment and our weather patterns, California’s fire season has been expanding in territory and in length, starting earlier in the summer and ending later in the fall with each passing year. According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire. The length of fire season is estimated to have increased by 75 days across the Sierras and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of forest fires across the state.1
With soaring summer temperatures and roaring summer wildfires, it’s no wonder that Californians experience rolling blackouts, brownouts and power outages as often as they do; whether it’s from devastated electric system properties or from surges in energy use that cause suppliers to limit power in certain or widespread areas. Especially if severe weather threatens a portion of the electric system, it may be necessary for utilities to turn off electricity in the interest of public safety. This is known as a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), and while it is impossible to predict with certainty when, where and how often severe weather could occur, depending on the location, areas could experience an average of zero to five events per year.
Despite knowing all of this up front, there always seems to be a last-minute scramble to secure backup generators and emergency energy solutions to maintain power and electricity. And we’re not just talking about residential use. PSPS is especially problematic for commercial and industrial facilities required to have power round the clock to carry out their business needs. But this safety service has actually created an opportunity this year that these hard-hit businesses can take advantage of microgrids and alternative fuels through on-site natural gas backup generators.
A microgrid houses electricity sources and loads and functions within its connected main power grid but can also disconnect and function autonomously when the main power grid is shut off. Leading Edge Power Solutions, a California-based distributed energy resource provider (DER) company that provides on-site, distributed generation solution, is one such company that saw the benefit of developing a statewide peak shavings, backup and emergency microgrid for fellow commercial and industrial businesses in the area affected by California’s wildfire and ensuing power outages. Because LEPS already has the business model and infrastructure in place to provide reciprocating emergency backup energy sources, it was a perfect fit. This emergency backup energy solution is ready to deploy for zero cost* to vetted commercial and industrial facilities and will ensure that these facilities maintain power using gaseous fuels despite this year’s rolling blackouts and brownouts. How can commercial and industrial businesses cash in on this zero-capital-costs opportunity to maintain power at their facilities, you ask?
Grant funding is currently available in the 58 counties of California and can be used to secure equipment, such as generators and/or generator connections, fuel storage or other back-up and emergency energy sources for essential facilities.
What’s more, with LEPS, you not only get an immediate, dispatchable solution to threatening power outages; LEPS is making a promise to all vetted* facilities to install a clean energy natural gas genset system by 2021 PSPS that may be used for continuous and backup power and that provides virtually zero emissions. What’s more, this clean energy system runs grid parallel as well as acts as its own microgrid.
LEPS’ proprietary technology, the LE240kW Smart Generator, is a quiet natural gas generator housed in a weather-proof, noise-reducing enclosure to be used for base loading, backup, or prime power. It’s clean, reliable and durable—LEPS’ proprietary catalytic converter, the LE XR7, controls exhaust emissions from LE 240 systems to prevent toxic gases and pollutants from escaping into the environment, making it adherent to Rule 1110.2 (SCAQMD**). Once installed, it’s controlled behind the meter depending on market to reduce demand charges, on peak rates and TOU (time of use) tariffs. (Clients pays for the kWh of genset runtime at fixed rates outlined in ESA, while LEPS is responsible for ongoing system O&M.)
For more information on how you can harness the power of the LE240kW system for your commercial or industrial facility, contact us here.
*Pending a customer load analysis
**The LE 240System is compliant with South Coast AQMD Rule 1110.2 Emissions from gaseous-and liquid-fueled engines. The purpose of Rule 1110.2 is to reduce Oxides of Nitrogen (NOᵪ), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and Carbon Monoxide (CO) from engines.-South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)LE -XR7 Catalytic Converter. LEPS currently holds permits through SCAQMD