California Regulators Give Final Okay to $200M Community Microgrid Incentive Program

April 7, 2023
The state's three investor-owned electric utilities will administer the program. Allotments are capped at $15 million per microgrid project.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Thursday gave final approval to a $200 million community microgrid development program that will be undertaken by the state’s three investor-owned utilities.

The Microgrid Incentive Program (MIP) will focus on bringing complex, community microgrids to disadvantaged and tribal communities vulnerable to power outages. It allocates $79.2 million for Pacific Gas & Electric, $83.3 million for Southern California Edison and $17.5 million for San Diego Gas & Electric. The utilities will receive $20 million, divided between the three, to cover their administrative costs for the program.

The utilities will select the communities that will receive the MIP money. Allotments are capped at $15 million per project.

Communities are eligible for the money if they experience public safety power shutoff events, which are intentional power shutoffs by utilities to avoid wildfires. Communities that face high wildfire risk, exceptionally poor grid performance or those vulnerable to damaging earthquakes are also eligible.

The utilities expect the program to produce complex microgrids that can serve multiple properties during lengthy grid outages.

“The Microgrid Incentive Program will provide valuable support to disadvantaged and vulnerable communities towards ensuring they are not left behind in the broader statewide resiliency effort,” said Genevieve Shiroma, a CPUC commissioner assigned to the proceeding. “These communities tend to be located in more electrically isolated areas with greater distances to essential services, experience more outages and have less accessibility to entities with backup power. This program will also provide the funding and education many communities need to meaningfully participate in the program.”  

In addition to finalizing the program’s rule, the commission also directed the utilities to seek out and help communities that might benefit from the program. Among other things, utilities must post a handbook on their websites within 180 days to educate communities about the program and provide guidance on how to win funding. 

The incentive program emerged from a multiyear effort by the commission to remove barriers to microgrid development, as prescribed under law SB 1339, enacted in 2018. Documents from the proceeding can be found on the CPUC website, under Docket No. 19-09-009

To learn more about microgrid incentives join us for Microgrid 2023: Lights On May 16-17 in Anaheim, California. 

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

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