California proposes storage incentives for wildfire-vulnerable residents


The California Public Utilities Commission has proposed a $100 million storage incentives scheme to assist a new kind of energy-vulnerable consumer – those living in parts of the state most at risk of wildfires.

The proposal will draw on funds allocated to the state’s Self-Generation Incentive Programme’s equity budget. The programme is the state’s incentive scheme for behind-the-meter battery storage.

The budget, which is allocated to assist the energy-vulnerable including the elderly and medically-boarded, will be reallocated to support vulnerable homes, critical infrastructure facilities, and low-income solar equity programme customers who are based in Tier 3, or high risk, areas.

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The current proposal, if accepted, would only affect 2020’s budget, however, the utility commission is planning to source further funding to sustain the programme on a long-term basis.

In light of the 2018 Camp Fire, which caused the death of 85 people, and PG&E filing for bankruptcy in January 2019, California legislators have added new legislation to bolster utility fire prevention and safety measures.

PG&E recently took responsibility for the Camp Fire incident, and have subsequently launched daily aerial patrols, satellite monitoring, and consumer-awareness efforts, but looming debts have led insurers to threaten a take-over.