It’s that time of the year again in Southern California when the weather gets warm and the masses head to the beach. As a lifelong resident, beach weather is the proverbial oven that starts to cook the local vegetation, leading to an increased risk of wildfires. These are a very real threat and in 2017, the Thomas Fire torched my family home.
Many of these fires are started by downed power lines as a result of improper maintenance, high winds, and a wide range of difficult to control factors. In response to repeatedly being blamed for fires, many utilities across the state have adopted a practice of proactively shutting down the most risky transmission lines under a new practice called Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS).
KEYT said these events are usually by triggered by weather-related events. “The NWS warning is usually issued in hot or extreme heat when sustained winds are blowing at 25 mph or gusts hit 35 mph,” KEYT reporter Beth Farnsworth said in the article. “Humidity levels must be less than 15% for at least six hours.”
These power disconnects can come with little to no notice and can range from a few hours up to a few weeks in duration. Let me say that again: local utilities can shut off electricity to thousands of customers with little to no notice for several weeks at a time. In a developed country. In 2020. For real.
Thankfully, it’s super easy for those very same customers in one of the sunniest places in the world, Southern California, to add solar and storage to their home. Adding batteries to a home is a lot like adding a generator to your home as a backup power source, but the real secret in the sauce is pairing batteries with rooftop solar. In this configuration, the rooftop solar will continuously recharge the home battery, allowing the system to provide power to a home for much longer.
When we rebuilt our home after the fire, we chose a solar plus storage installation for this very reason. Batteries do improve the return on investment for solar systems in many areas, but the prospect of having the power to our home shut down for days or weeks on end was also a significant factor.
We have yet to have a long duration PSPS event in our new home, but we have already weathered smaller storms and came out the other end unscathed. In a longer event, we would likely pay closer attention to which large appliances were using power, when we charged our EVs, and turned the hot tub off, but I’m confident our 10.6kW Tesla Solar Roof and 2 Tesla Powerwalls would provide sufficient power for us to keep our food from spoiling and power all our daily activities with minimal interruptions, if any.
Numerous solar providers in the area offer residential energy storage solutions bundled with rooftop solar, whether it be traditional panels from Sunrun (which recently acquired Vivint), Tesla, local installers, or a building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) product like Tesla’s Solar Roof or Exasun’s solar roof tiles.
At the end of the day, the core message is that we have sustainable solutions that not only help homeowners save money on energy month to month, that reduce your carbon footprint, can power your electric vehicle, but they can also help you get through grid outages long or short when you add storage.
Feel free to use my Tesla referral code for your Tesla Solar purchase if you’re inclined to see if they are a good fit. Currently, you’ll get a $100 reward for using a referral code like mine. If you use my code (https://ts.la/kyle623), I also get a reward from Tesla which help us be more financially sustainable here at CleanTechnica.