Helping Customers and Hometowns PG&E Lays Groundwork for Permanent, Multi-Customer Microgrids
Today, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) launched its Community Microgrid Enablement Program (CMEP) to help communities identify, design and build permanent, multi-customer microgrids serving critical facilities and vulnerable customer groups. A microgrid is an electric system that can operate independently from the central energy grid.
Through this new program approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), PG&E will provide technical and financial support on a prioritized basis for qualifying projects in areas with the greatest energy resilience needs. This includes dedicated funding to help meet the resilience needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.
“We know how much our customers need reliable energy. Community microgrids will play a key role in PG&E’s ongoing efforts to harden our electrical system and enhance local grid resilience for customers throughout our service area in Northern and Central California. We look forward to partnering with our customers, especially those in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, to build customized resilience solutions that address local electric reliability needs for the long term,” said Fong Wan, PG&E’s Senior Vice President, Energy Policy and Procurement.
In 2020, PG&E consulted with local governments, agencies and communities interested in developing microgrid projects and worked to refine the eligibility criteria and other program requirements. The CPUC approved the final program details on March 18, 2021.
Prioritized projects will be those that serve disadvantaged communities, critical facilities such as hospitals, and areas with a higher likelihood of Public Safety Power Shutoffs or other significant power outage events, as well as projects with higher levels of renewable energy.
What’s a Community Microgrid?
A community microgrid is a group of customers and Distributed Energy Resources (DERs)—such as solar generation and battery energy storage systems—within clearly defined electrical boundaries with the ability to disconnect from and reconnect to the grid.
These microgrids are typically designed to serve portions of communities that include community resources, such as hospitals, police and fire stations, gas stations and grocery stores.
Each community microgrid is uniquely designed by the community to address its specific goals and needs. A range of factors determine the size of the microgrid, what community services are served and what elements are included in the design.