Solar storage can keep the lights on

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October 23, 2019
Picture of Funes family in front of home holding GRID banner.

When Frank Funes heard the power to his Northern California home may be shut off for an entire week, he worried. For Frank, electricity isn’t just a convenience. “I’m a disabled veteran and I have scooters and wheelchairs that I need to charge,” Frank explains. 

Earlier this month, PG&E shut off power to hundreds of thousands of Northern Californians to prevent powerlines from sparking wildfires during dry and windy weather. The Funes family was without power for only two and a half days but more outages loom in the future.

The Funes’s are no strangers to the dangers of wildfire. Their Oroville home and GRID-installed solar system were destroyed in the 2018 Camp Fire. Prior to the fire, Frank says solar lowered their electricity bill from around $500 during the hot summer months to near zero. A few weeks ago, GRID North Valley installed solar on their new home. 

Picture of home destroyed by wildfire.
The Funes family home destroyed by the 2018 Camp Fire.
The Funes family will soon be saving money again from reduced energy bills thanks to solar. However, without battery storage connected to their solar system, they won’t be able to keep the lights on when the power grid is turned off.  

During the outage, Frank hooked up a gas-powered generator to keep his refrigerator and medical equipment charged. The large generator is difficult for him to maneuver and the family worries about the cost and availability of fuel.  

The solution? “Batteries would be very welcome. The batteries and the solar,” says Frank. “That would be the ticket right there for what's happening.”

After a years-long effort by GRID and our partners, California recently boosted incentives to the state’s battery storage equity budget, which will support storage adoption by medically vulnerable and low-income Californians who are most at risk to wildfires and preventative public safety shutoffs. 

This win opens up new opportunities for us to make solar and storage accessible to more California families. As we witness the impacts of climate-induced disasters like wildfires, this opportunity can’t come soon enough.

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