Ted Lamm & Ethan Elkind, CALMATTERS
California’s electrical grid is getting cleaner, but it is still not well positioned to deal with a changing climate with its web of decades-old poles and wires.
As California communities confront the reality of emerging from coronavirus shelter-in-place orders, another inevitable crisis that also requires aggressive preventative action looms: wildfire season.
In the face of this persistent threat, we need aggressive integration of clean energy technologies to power a reliable and resilient electricity grid for our homes, health care systems, transportation networks and supply chains.
Californians are familiar with the ways that climate change is increasing our wildfire risk, with six of the top 10 most destructive fires in state history occurring in the past three years. California’s electrical grid stands in the middle of this increasingly complex predicament.
At least three of those fires were triggered by utility equipment, including the 2018 Camp Fire, which took 85 lives in the process of destroying 18,000 structures and the town of Paradise. 2019 brought widespread public safety power shut-offs and far less destructive fires throughout the state, but at the cost of new outage-related risks for vulnerable communities and residents – a trade-off we may be making for the next 10 years or more.
California’s electrical grid is getting cleaner, but it is still not well positioned to weather this changing climate. Today’s grid features a web of decades- and century-old poles and wires, even as the state obtains a record level of energy from cutting-edge solar and wind technology.
Continue reading “California’s looming wildfire threat requires a cleaner, more resilient electrical grid”