Solar panels on top of the Music A building. | File photo by Walter Hackett

PSPS Events Showcase Reliance on Fossil Fuels

With the recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs, blackouts may be a large push toward renewable energy.
Translate

With the recent Public Safety Power Shutoffs, blackouts may be a big push toward renewable energy

Public Safety Power Shutoff, blackouts could aid the push toward renewable energy. Solar micro-grids, local offshore wind farms or more well maintained power lines could be the answer to back-to-back outages. 

Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s PSPS events are triggered by environmental conditions that threaten parts of their power grid. For example, a third consecutive power shutoff was originally scheduled for Tuesday morning, but changing weather patterns pushed back the timing. On Tuesday at 5:22 p.m. the county was removed from the PSPS affected counties list.

PG&E’s PSPS events are triggered by environmental conditions that threaten parts of their power grid.

“Due to diminished weather conditions, Humboldt County is no longer in the scope for a Public Safety Power Shutoff tonight and power will remain on,” said Humboldt OES in an email alert. “There are still communities without power but PG&E advises they hope to have those areas re-energized tonight.”

The nature of the power grid in Northern California renders Arcata and Eureka subject to power outages if other areas of the grid are at risk. The energy used in Northern Humboldt is imported through transmission lines to the Eureka Humboldt Bay Generating Plant, where it’s amplified for local use. If energy stops flowing through the lines to Humboldt, there is no source of energy and therefore, no electricity. 

Terra-Gen, a Manhattan-based wind power company, has proposed a wind generation project for the Monument and Bear River Ridges that could provide nearly half of Humboldt’s energy. A panel discussion on the project will be held Nov. 6 at 5:30 p.m. in Founders Hall 118.

“Anticipated project features include a significant contribution to North Coast renewable energy generation and to California’s clean energy mandate,” the panel flyer says.

According to Terra-Gen, benefits of the project could include the creation of local green jobs and Humboldt Bay development. However, some local community members see the project as more consequential than not. 

As California’s dry and windy seasons become the new normal, power shutoffs will likely become common occurrence.

The proposed area of development, Monument and Bear River Ridges, sit on Wiyot territory. According to the Wiyot Tribe and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Monument and Bear River Ridges aren’t appropriate for wind development. The turbines could harm or destroy some of the rare and protected species that call the area home.

“Concerns raised include impacts on bat and bird deaths; tree removal; effects on sites with cultural and ecological significance to Native American Tribes; erosion and sedimentation from sub-river drilling and road expansion; visual impacts; light and noise pollution; and traffic congestion,” the flyer says.

The upcoming panel lists some of these concerns as additional talking points, but it is unclear if the company or the county have come to a conclusion on how to proceed with this particular option of alternative energy. 

Alternatively, PG&E maintains that shutoffs are necessary to prevent dangerous wildfires like the Camp Fire of 2018. Any at-risk transmission line can be shut off. As California’s dry and windy seasons become the new normal, power shutoffs will likely become common occurrence. However, some individuals are taking advantage of the winds, rather than suffering from them. 

Blue Lake Rancheria has tested local energy generation since 2011. The Rancheria has yet to be seriously impacted by the power shutoffs because they have solar electricity and battery storage, forming a microgrid

Their microgrid works as a system of solar panels which power the Casino and other buildings during the day while also charging up a bank of Tesla batteries for the night. The grid can be connected or disconnected from PG&E’s grid as needed, making them sustainable without any power from the utility.

The primary barrier to building offshore wind turbines and micro grids or improving PG&E’s transmission lines is cost. Alternative energy projects cost significantly more upfront that traditional fossil fuels. The economic costs of the recent power shutoffs, however, may be enough to kickstart real conversations about alternatives.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Share on reddit

More Stories

Photo by Abraham Navarro | Cowboy Daddy's Drummer and Keyboard player Conner West, 25, and guitarist Skye Freitas, 24, jam out at the Gutswurrak Student Activity Center on April 28.

Local bands rock the Gutswurrak

by Ione Dellos Band members wait in front of the bathrooms, eyes anxiously fluttering from the stage to the growing audience in the Gutswurrak Student Activities Center. After the deepest sigh one could possibly take, they make their way to

Travis Allen pole vaults at the Green and Gold Track Event on Feb. 12 Photo by Morgan Hancock.

Athlete’s outperform at decathlon

by Carlos Pedraza The Cal Poly Humboldt Track and Field team participated in the Stanislaus State Multi-Event from Thursday April 7 to Saturday April 9. The team participated in over 10 different events, all of which were multi-day involving different

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Izzy Star hits a home run in final softball game of the season at the Bear River Recreation Center in Loleta, California on Saturday, April 30.

Cal Poly Humboldt plays its last softball game of the series

by Eddie Carpenter On April 30, Cal Poly Humboldt Softball played the last two games of their series against Cal State San Marcos. Due to weather conditions, the softball games had to be relocated to the Bear River Recreation Center

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply