Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


Energy Storage Can Help People With Disabilities Through Extreme Weather Events

During climate disasters and extreme weather events like hurricanes, wildfires, or winter storms, people with underlying health conditions and disabilities face global mortality rates that are four times higher than those without disabilities. Fortunately, solutions like energy storage and clean energy technologies can provide safe, reliable, and equitable power during severe weather conditions.

People receiving medical support at home often require the use of various electric-powered equipment for their care. This can include things like oxygen tanks, ventilators, and wheelchairs for mobility. Other needs like prescription medications, such as insulin, require refrigeration. And there are conditions for mobility that must be considered — finding a clinic or shelter with power may not be an option. Shelters may not be handicap-accessible, and the route to shelters may be inaccessible during extreme weather.

Lack of power can have devastating consequences for disadvantaged communities.

In 2019, when Pacific Gas & Electric Company issued power shutoffs in California in an attempt to mitigate wildfire risks and promote public safety, Robert Mardis Sr., a man who used an electric oxygen tank to aid his breathing, died only minutes after a shutoff hit his household.

Energy storage could have saved Robert’s life.

Salient Energy

Salent Energy residential energy storage. Credit: Salient

Energy Storage & Microgrids Can Save Lives

This type of technology is a safe and reliable option for residents who want to guarantee backup power to their home during power outage situations. Energy storage, along with solar-powered energy, can store energy for long periods of time and generate power without the threat of grid disruptions. It can also provide a host of other benefits at the transmission and distribution levels. Even a battery storage system that provides a home power for just a couple hours can enable people to access resources and shelter in critical moments.

There are promising programs already putting this solution in motion.

MCE is a nonprofit public agency in California that offers free portable home batteries to residents for medical and transportation devices so they may operate life-saving equipment or maintain means of mobility. Utilities like Southern California Edison and PG&E have also established programs like this to provide people with battery backups.

In Puerto Rico, the use of microgrids has improved the island’s resilience against severe weather since Hurricane Maria. Microgrids, comprised of distributed energy resources like solar and storage, can operate both connected or disconnected to the grid and can provide reliability during grid disruptions. New microgrids now in operation have helped Puerto Ricans maintain power even in the face of continuing storms.

But we cannot wait for disasters and outages to strike before scrambling for answers. Our leaders must be working quickly to institute policies that add more distributed energy resources to the grid, as well as make residential tools like battery storage accessible for everyone. Energy storage incentives need to include both equity provisions as well as immediate savings that can help alleviate upfront costs. The California PUC’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), for example, provides rebates for energy storage and also includes a specific equity rate to aid low-income customers.

Existing Resources Are Not Enough To Help People With Disabilities

In order to improve access to clean energy sources, states should design incentives for energy storage by addressing the specific barriers faced by people with disabilities. Medical Baseline consumers — those who depend on power for medical needs — should be included in incentive eligibility for storage. And emergency preparedness plans need to provide battery backup systems for people with disabilities.

It’s critical that both large-scale and household-level solutions are implemented with a mind toward equity. Race, gender, and income greatly affect how people with disabilities are burdened. A Tesla Powerwall battery, for example, comes with a $11,500 price tag. That’s a significant financial burden, particularly for those who may already be dealing with elevated costs of healthcare. Lower-cost financing options, technical assistance, and inclusive outreach programs can help improve access to resources like home energy storage. And more equitable data can help ensure resources like temporary shelters are accessible to people with disabilities who need it the most.

With policies that comprehensively center disability justice, we can work towards solutions that help protect all people in the face of climate disaster, especially for those facing disproportionate harm in the face of climate change. Clean technologies like energy storage have several benefits for households and our larger energy systems, but they can also be critical lifesaving tools for people with disabilities and health conditions. It’s time to implement solutions that have lifesaving, long-term benefits, while prioritizing the needs of marginalized communities and proactively minimizing harm with resources that are accessible for all.

By Maria Chavez, an Energy Analyst for the Union of Concerned Scientists’, The Equation  

This blog post was first published on Utility Dive

Featured photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Former Tesla Battery Expert Leading Lyten Into New Lithium-Sulfur Battery Era — Podcast:

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Written By

We publish a number of guest posts from experts in a large variety of fields. This is our contributor account for those special people, organizations, agencies, and companies.


You May Also Like

Climate Change

Climate change is making weather more extreme. This tool shows how many people across the United States face risks right now from wildfires, flooding,...

Climate Change

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mocha made landfall on 14 May in Myanmar, near the border with Bangladesh, accompanied by sustained winds of 180-190 km/h...

Climate Change

Cyclone Gabrielle has been lashing New Zealand with strong winds and heavy rain in mid-February 2023, adding to what has already been an unusually...

Climate Change

"Climate change is also indirectly affecting winter storms, making these extreme events happen more often. This is less intuitive and a very active area...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.