California’s public safety power shutoff in early October was unprecedented in scale. As hot, dry winds elevated the threat of wildfire, Pacific Gas & Electric cut power to more than 780,000 customer accounts. This left about two million northern California residents in the dark, in some cases for up to four days. Schools closed, food and medication spoiled, and car accidents happened as stoplights suddenly went dark. In all, the shutoff cost the state an estimated $1.8 to $2.5 billion.
Shutting down power is a crude tool. Making matters worse was PG&E’s mishandling of the situation. The utility failed to provide power outage maps and critical information. Call centers were overwhelmed, leaving customers on hold for hours. Its website crashed for two days.
In the aftermath of the blackout, Californians and state officials are outraged at PG&E’s inadequate grid and sheer incompetence. Governor Gavin Newsom blasted the utility’s decades of “greed and mismanagement” and called for PG&E to refund $100 to residential customers and $250 to small businesses affected. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) called the shutoff “unacceptable” in length and scope. The commission is demanding that PG&E restore power within 12 hours from now on.
Unfortunately, these massive blackouts will keep happening. PG&E says its customers will likely have to face them for the next decade. The state’s other two utility giants, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, have similar shutdown plans in place. Meanwhile, climate change has created a longer, more dangerous fire season. How can California households be prepared for the power outages yet to come?
Many California homeowners are combining their rooftop solar panels with an energy storage system that saves self-generated power for later use. One of the most powerful residential storage systems on the market comes from San Diego: the NeoVolta NV14 Energy Storage System.
When the lights go out for any reason, the NV14 automatically disconnects from the grid to power a home’s critical loads continuously. The system has a high storage capacity of 14.4 kilowatt hours (kWh) and delivers 7.6 kW of continuous power. Homeowners who need more storage capacity can add a second NV14 battery and avoid the expense of installing another entire system (inverter and battery); this option will be available in November 2019.
The NV14’s advanced lithium iron phosphate battery is designed for safety and a longer life cycle than ordinary lithium ion batteries. The system can connect with any residential solar installation—new or existing, AC or DC. With the NeoVolta smartphone app, users can monitor the system’s performance 24/7.
Another benefit of the NeoVolta NV14 is significant savings on a homeowner’s monthly electric bill. Energy generated during the daytime can be stored in the NV14’s battery and used during evening “peak demand” hours when utility rates are often twice as high.
“California is a global leader in technology and innovation, the world’s fifth-largest economy, but all too often residents are left without basic electric power. It’s a sorry state of affairs,” said Brent Willson, CEO of NeoVolta. “But you can either be vulnerable or you can be prepared. With the NeoVolta NV14 energy storage system, households can save the solar energy they generate and no longer have to depend entirely on the utility company.”