PG&E Announces 6 New Remote Microgrids Coming in 2024

May 14, 2024
The utility is using remote microgrids to eliminate overhead distribution lines in high fire threat areas, reducing wildfire risks and improving reliability.

Northern California utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced Tuesday that it will expand its remote grid program, adding six new installations in 2024.

Remote grids, also known as remote microgrids, operate independently from the larger electric grid. They provide stand-alone local energy resources to defined areas, allowing the utility to remove long overhead electric distribution lines, reducing wildfire risk and service interruptions for remote customers.

Remote grids often use low-carbon energy sources, such as solar, to provide reliable electricity to customers while also minimizing emissions.

A dozen remote grids by year’s end

PG&E currently has five remote grids in operation, with a sixth expected to come online in the coming months.

PG&E first deployed a remote grid in Briceburg, California, in 2021. Located near Yosemite National Park, the system replaced 1.3 miles of overhead distribution lines. More than 90% of the demand from the remote grid’s five customers is served by the system’s solar panels, with backup generators providing redundancy and additional power during the winter months when solar production declines.

In 2023, PG&E commissioned its fifth stand-alone remote grid –– and its first without fossil fuels –– at Sonoma County’s Pepperwood Preserve. The Pepperwood remote grid replaces a nearly mile-long overhead distribution power line and serves the preserve’s Bechtel House, an overnight guesthouse used by scientists, teachers and students conducting climate monitoring, research and education.

The Pepperwood remote grid includes a 17.36-kW direct current (DC) Standard Test Conditions canopy solar array, a 60.8-kWh DC battery energy storage system and a 27.2kVa inverter.

The six new systems announced today will each serve a single customer and eliminate a total of six miles of overhead lines.

By the end of the year, PG&E expects to have 12 remote grids in operation, serving a total of 18 customers and eliminating nearly 13 miles of overhead distribution lines in high fire threat areas.

World changing ideas

PG&E also announced Tuesday that its remote grid program had received an honorable mention for Fast Company’s 2024 World Changing Ideas Awards.

The awards program highlights products, companies and policies that make the world safer, cleaner as well as more sustainable and equitable.

“Recognition of PG&E’s remote grid program as a Fast Company 2024 World Changing Idea validates our commitment to deploy energy innovations at greater speed and deliver the best possible customer experiences,” said Mike Delaney, vice president of utility partnerships and innovation at PG&E.

Further expansion expected

PG&E said in a statement that the expansion of its remote grid fleet is ongoing with additional sites in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties either in development or being assessed.

The utility also said it will continue to work with utility contractor Potelco and BoxPower, a solar microgrid solutions provider, to design and build the new remote grids. New Sun Road will continue to deliver the remote monitoring and control platform

About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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