Remember last years wildfires sparked by downed Utility power lines? The ones that completely destroyed the town of Malden? 121 homes incinerated?
Two Washington State Utilities, Avista and Puget Sound Energy have decided to not develop plans to shut down their electrical grid as a preventative measure and believe they have enough fire prevention measures in place to significantly reduce the risk of new wildfires.
It’s tricky for the Utilities to find a balance between providing reliable electricity and mitigating wildfire risks as new sets of issues arise when Utilities cut off power to portions of their electrical grid. For example, people reliant on electrically powered medical equipment like dialysis machines for critical health care are in danger when the power is turned off.
The Climate Crisis will bring more frequent and intense severe weather events so Utilities will be facing these challenges for some time. We believe microgrids, (local renewable energy combined with energy storage) will increasingly become a part of the mitigation strategies for the Utilities. Microgrids give Utilities more options in how to manage wildfire risks and keep our communities safer. The impacts of the severe weather event that hit Texas earlier this year could also be mitigated by microgrids.