Why Did My PG&E Power Go Out and What Can I Do?

Why Did My PG&E Power Go Out and What Can I Do?

For the first time in 20 years California is experiencing rolling blackouts. Reports indicate that over 3 million residents were recently affected. Conditions that caused these blackouts will continue, and the situation will get worse during fire season when we can expect Public Safety Power Shutoffs.

In the olden days, blackouts were an opportunity to sit around by the fire and read by candlelight. Not any more. We rely on electricity to keep our food cold, to keep our lights on, to charge our cars and to keep our family connected to both school and work.

PG&E is not being candid about the real cause of these recent blackouts. Ostensibly, the rolling blackouts were caused when hot weather caused air conditioning demand to spike at the same time that several 500 MW natural gas power plants went offline, either due to scheduled maintenance or failure. But when I checked into the cause of several extended Silicon Valley outages, it became apparent that these outages were due to local transformer failures — not the one to two hour rolling blackouts that were announced.

The solution is almost universally recognized: more battery storage capacity charged by solar. I say “almost” because PG&E and other utilities are still recommending flashlights, candles and gas generators. Their logic is entirely based on their profit motive to install more of their own generating and storage capacity. PG&E and other utilities don’t want homeowners to install solar-charged battery backup systems — which are safe, reliable and affordable.

Please tune in to this week’s Energy Show for the gory details about this latest rash of blackouts — as well as what you can do to keep your lights on, your food cold and your family connected.

Transforming our Electric Grid

Transforming our Electric Grid

In response to the Financial Crisis of 2008, Rahm Emmanuel — at the time Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff — quipped: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The death, economic destruction and havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 crisis is by no means “good;” nevertheless, sometimes it does take a life-economy-society altering crisis to overcome the inertia that stands in the way of fundamental changes.

One of those changes that we need to make relates to our archaic electric grid. New technologies — wind, solar, batteries, EVs, computer controls, building electrification, software, heat pumps — make the distributed electric grid cheaper, safer and more efficient. But we have over one hundred years of established grid infrastructure practices standing in the way of transforming our electric grid.

Companies that are transforming our electric grid have a tremendous market opportunity, magnified and accelerated by any government stimulus spending that may be allocated. The problem is not just isolated to regular upgrades and maintenance of our grid. Instead, the big opportunity is to redesign the grid — much as the interstate highway system revolutionized transportation in the U.S.

One new company in this space is Veloce Energy. It’s my pleasure to have Jeff Wofe, CEO of Veloce, as our guest on this week’s Energy Show. I’ve known Jeff for over 15 years since he was the founder and Chairman of GroSolar, a pioneering national distributor and installer of solar equipment throughout the US. Jeff and I served for many years on the board of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), where we worked side-by-side on solar policies such as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC).

Please listen to this week’s Energy Show as we Jeff describes Veloce Energy’s grid-edge system architecture. This architecture will provide simplified connections for distributed generation, cost-effective resilience for both buildings and vehicles, and a streamlined path to help us in transforming our electric grid of the future.