San Jose hopes to create power microgrids as back up to PG&E

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose and Oakland each are receiving a half-million-dollar grant from the state to address power interruptions. San Jose is planning to use that money to generate its own back-up power.

While PG&E is being pressured by irate customers and regulators, San Jose is trying to come up with its own solution.

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Mayor Sam Liccardo says he plans to use $500,000 in special state funds to start exploring a network of electrical microgrids that can provide power when PG&E's system can't or won't.

"We'll be looking at critical facilities throughout the city where we can assure we have local generation of power, primarily through solar and fuel cells and local storage of that electricity," said Liccardo.

The goal is to keep small retailers and restaurants operating, to keep home medical devices working, and to keep essential city services operating, not to mention keeping thousands of homes from going dark. But it's going to take time and a lot more than what the state is funding.

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"This is a multiple billion dollar proposition," noted the Mayor. "Nonetheless, we need to get started."

State Senator Jim Beall, who represents San Jose, sits on the budget committee in Sacramento. He said no strings are attached how San Jose can use the money.

"We're not putting a lot strings on it or any kind of rules," Beall said. "We want it to be spent on the emergency that we have now-- and fast."

San Jose hasn't added up all its expenses from the PG&E PSPS events, but the Mayor estimates it's at least a half-million dollars. He's not hopeful that small businesses that lost sales or perishables will see reimbursement from PG&E due to the bankruptcy.

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Mayor Liccardo said he's also working on creating a coalition to work on these long-term power needs, but he's not ready to announce any details.

However, four public power agencies on the Peninsula and in the East Bay are planning to announce next Tuesday how a coalition they have formed will provide power during PG&E shutdowns.

For more stories and videos about the PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs go here.
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