"A California County Returns to Power, Thanks to Its Microgrid"
In August 2023, Del Norte County in California faced a power crisis when wildfires threatened its only transmission lines, leaving its 27,000 residents in the dark. Pacific Power, in collaboration with Pacific Gas & Electric, responded with an innovative solution: deploying tractor-trailer-sized generators to create microgrids that could operate independently from the endangered transmission lines. These generator-powered microgrids became the largest and longest-running microgrid operation of its kind in the state, supplying power to homes and businesses in the county. Within a week, all non-evacuated residents had their electricity restored, providing a lifeline for critical services and preventing further damage from the wildfires. While this response was effective, it also highlighted the need for more resilient and sustainable solutions, such as solar, batteries, and natural gas-powered microgrids, to address power outages in the face of growing wildfire risks and extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.