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California Senate Bill Offers Clean Energy Solutions To Keep Lights On During Blackouts

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SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – California residents should be able to keep their lights on during disaster-induced power outages without having to rely on carbon-emitting generators, Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said in his new legislation on the climate. entitled Community Energy Resilience Act.

Introduced on Tuesday, Senate Bill 833 would help local governments develop community-based clean energy infrastructure, like solar panels and large battery storage, by providing technical and financial assistance from the California Energy Commission.
Dodd said planning for clean energy investments can attract private and public entities and organize a community-wide resilience strategy that prioritizes the most essential facilities in the event of a disaster.

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As forest fires and heat waves occur more often and with greater force, Dodd hopes to diminish the role of diesel generators during increasingly frequent blackouts.

“Not only have the recent power outages cost California billions of dollars, the emissions from back-up generators have taken a heavy toll on our environment,” Dodd said in a statement. “I want to prioritize the development of clean energy sources, especially in low income communities, to minimize the environmental threat and keep the lights on for everyone.”

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For essential utility providers or residents dependent on electrical medical devices, diesel standby engines often serve as a lifeline in the event of temporary outages. The California Air Resources Board has stated that this short-term use may nevertheless have harmful effects on air quality and public health.

In a January 2020 impact assessment, CARB found that nearly 973,000 customers across California were affected by 806 power outage events in October 2019 alone. Meanwhile, the generators added about 8.9 tons of diesel particles in the atmosphere, which, according to the board of directors, is almost equivalent to 29,000 heavy trucks traveling on national roads for a month.
Environmental, community and industry groups like the Climate Center and the California State Association of Counties have expressed support for Dodd’s legislation.

“Climate impacts from wildfires to extreme heat waves are disrupting lives and businesses across California,” said Ellie Cohen, CEO of The Climate Center, in a statement. “The Community Energy Resilience Act represents an important step towards a clean energy future for the state. We look forward to working with Senator Dodd to pass this common sense legislation and ensure that California’s most vulnerable communities benefit first.

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