Date of Graduation

Fall 12-15-2023

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management


MSN project

First Advisor

Tracy Benning


Planned and unplanned power outages have been increasing in frequency and duration, negatively impacting all public sectors, and threatening public safety. These outages are deadly to those who rely on medical devices. As climate change-fueled extreme weather events (wildfires, earthquakes, storms, etc.) also increase in frequency, our electrical grid must be prepared to bounce back. Microgrids provide necessary redundancy and reliability. Through a novel GIS suitability analysis, based on solar radiation, land use type, local energy demand, distance to transmission lines, distance to roads, and slope, optimal locations for solar-powered microgrids throughout Northern California were determined. The counties of Fresno, Sacramento, and Santa Clara were found to be the most optimal locations to implement these projects. Solar was chosen because of the competitive pricing and abundant nature of the renewable resource. Due to the emission-free power generation and resiliency, solar-powered microgrids serve as a technology that prevents and adapts to climate change. For public health, safety, and the environment, it is recommended that the California Energy Commission partners with utility companies and Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to implement solar-powered microgrids. IPPs may site their projects in disadvantaged communities to qualify for funding through the Microgrid Incentive Program and benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act tax credits for solar technologies and components.