Sunnova’s CAISO Microgrid Fight

Sunnova has proposed that it should be able to provide microgrid services to master planned communities in California for solar plus storage and local resiliency. A shared microgrid will allow residents to provide power to each other during grid emergencies, when the bulk power system might not be available due to shortages or wildfires.

Of course, local utilities have pushed back on this; providing grids to communities as a monopoly with a guaranteed rate of return is the business of utilities since Thomas Edison’s days. But good planning can create opportunities to invest in more local resiliency, and perhaps for a lower cost than what is provided by the local monopoly utility. Community microgrids where power is shared across a variety of customers will be an emerging policy issue in the United States over the coming years. This will be useful not just for new communities, but for shared solar and storage in a condo association or apartment complex, or sharing an oversized solar plus storage installation at a local library, fire station, or community center with nearby residents during an emergency.