Topics: Microgrids, Community Resiliency, Desert Bloom and Butterflies
On today’s show, we talk about the growth of microgrids and how reimagining our local energy infrastructure can lead to more resilient communities. We then turn to community actions that serve a dual purpose - bringing people together and also cleaning up local beaches.
Our guest is Craig Lewis, the Executive Director of the Clean Coalition - an organization that’s working hard to accelerate the transition to renewable energy. We finish up the show with a discussion on some amazing happenings in our natural backyard, the benefits of nature, and some great “didyaknows”.
Creating a Greener Grid
This week Cal Fire, the Ventura Fire Department, and the US Forest Service all published reports that identified SoCal Gas powerlines as the cause for the 2017 Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara. In northern California, PG & E has already been held liable for the Paradise and Camp Fires. Both of these instances demonstrate the need for a greener electric grid that is resilient to the inevitable natural disasters associated with climate change. This can be achieved most effectively by focusing on renewable sources like wind and solar energy; since these sources can only be captured intermittently, it will be necessary to create clever storage systems ensure constant power
A microgrid is a decentralized grid that creates and stores energy. Borrego Springs, a town of 3,400 people 90 miles east of San Diego that was experiencing blackouts all the time because it was at the edge of transmission lines from San Diego. The biggest disaster was a 2007 fire led to a multiple day blackout. In 2013, the microgrid was tested during a large storm when flooding and lightning knocked out the connecting power line from San Diego. The city was able to unplug the microgrid from the central electric grid and provide enough energy for the community to calmly weather the storm. We also touch on an apartment complex in Brooklyn that developed a microgrid to help Con Edison keep delivering power to its customers.
Hashtag Trashtag this trend gets a mention at the end of this segment, as an example of how social media can be a force for good.
Blooms and Butterflies
The last story this week focuses on reports that California is almost completely drought free. Only one per cent of the state is still considered to be in drought conditions. Yet, even in the deserts across the state, it is hard to find evidence of the drought. The Anza-Borrego Desert, a state park east of San Diego, is experiencing a “super bloom” of flowers, which is painting the normally drab desert with swathes of colors that can be seen from the mountains thousands of feet above it. Super blooms have occurred twice in the past two years, though they usually occur once every decade. This is largely due to the El Niño occurring this year. Beyond the super bloom, a large lake has appeared (and has not disappeared yet) in Death Valley of all places, and people all across Southern California are marveling at the annual migration of hundreds of millions of butterflies from all over California and Mexico.
Craig Lewis is the Founder and Executive Director of Clean Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to accelerating the transition to renewable energy and a modern grid. He has over 30 years of experience in the renewables, wireless, semiconductor, and banking industries. Previously VP of Government Relations at GreenVolts, he was the first to successfully navigate a solar project through California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard solicitation process. Craig was energy policy lead on Steve Westly’s 2006 California gubernatorial campaign. His resume includes senior government relations, corporate development, and marketing positions at leading wireless, semiconductor, and banking companies such as Qualcomm, Ericsson, and Barclays Bank. Craig received an MBA and MSEE from the University of Southern California and a BSEE from the University of California, Berkeley.