Date of Graduation
Project/Capstone - Global access
Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)
College of Arts and Sciences
Climate change summons more extreme and frequent weather events that threaten communities’ access to power. Without power, businesses lose revenue, essential services are limited, people are exposed to extreme temperatures, and lives are lost. California has adopted microgrids as a solution to costly power outages, electrification needs, and renewable energy goals. This work evaluates the adoption of microgrids as an equitable climate resilience and adaptation strategy through a geospatial analysis of California’s resilience investment needs, a case study analysis of 9 existing tribal and rural microgrids, and a gap analysis of California and federal policies and incentive programs. Programs like Electric Program Investment Charge demonstrates that it is possible to identify and prioritize environmental justice (EJ) areas. It is recommended that California expands incentives and technical assistance to EJ communities. Additionally, this work found that Rule 218 is a major barrier to microgrid adoption. It is recommended to first modify the rule to allow community-owned microgrids under the own-use doctrine and second to exempt microgrids from public utility status to mobilize innovation and commercialization, aligned with SB 1339’s goals. Furthermore, the current utility model impedes progress towards climate adaptation. Investor-owned utilities have failed to provide reliable electricity and prevent wildfires. This work recommends shifting to a performance-based utility model that rewards resilience and reliability. Other actions that are needed to mobilize equitable microgrid adoption include raising high-voltage network rates for industrial users and investing in workforce development. Mobilizing microgrids through these actions equips California for equitable climate resilience and adaptation.
Smith, Savanna Olivia, "Community Microgrids as an Equitable Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy in California" (2023). Master's Projects and Capstones. 1494.