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East Bay Startup Gives Security to CA’s Fire Stations

A startup company by the name of Gridscape is making waves by working with California’s fire stations to establish microgrids. These solar-powered grids would be resilient in the face of power shortages or outages, and would be supplied by solar energy. 


“As California leaders scramble to address the fallout from devastating wildfires that have ripped across the state in recent years, the California Public Utilities Commission is reviewing rules that allow the state’s electric utilities to cut power to communities when there is a major risk of forest fire.

The goal: pre-emptively shut off power to sections of California’s aging grid so that it doesn’t spark any more deadly blazes. These wildfires have also destroyed homes and entire towns, and this week brought the state’s largest utility to the brink of bankruptcy.

Shutting off power may well be a necessary step, but — beyond potentially leaving communities in the dark for days or longer — it also risks handcuffing first responders who need power to do their work if the fire comes from another source.

One possible answer to the dilemma: Fremont-based Gridscape Solutions, a renewable energy project developer, is working with California fire stations to build resilient microgrids.”

With the recent news of  certain California utility’s bankruptcy and billion-dollar wildfire liability, these microgrids could not come at a better time. Aging infrastructure may well present future dangers, but solutions like Gridscape dramatically lessen them. 


“Additionally, (Fremont) will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80,000 pounds annually. ‘This was always a great idea from a greenhouse gas emissions perspective, and it will add operational resiliency. But it also hit so many value-adds beyond the sustainability factor,’ DiFranco said.

Fremont’s microgrid system was built for $2.4 million. The California Energy Commission kicked in $1.8 million, and Gridscape Solutions paid for the rest, which it will recoup through a power-purchase agreement with the city of Fremont.

‘The fire station microgrids allow us to significantly save on our operational costs while at the same time introducing an aspect of resiliency by providing us with energy independence,’ Alexander Schubeck, the emergency services manager for Fremont Fire Department, said in a statement.

Gridscape won a $4.9 million grant from the Energy Commission in 2018 to build out these types of microgrids, as the startup competes with other microgrid players like Sunrun and Schneider Electric. Gore is in talks about building microgrids at fire stations in Richmond and other cities across the state. He said the next site could be in the city of Stockton, California.”

It is beyond encouraging to see companies tackle the problems facing the future of energy head-on. We commend Gridscape for their work, and have nothing but confidence in any action that would help free California and its ratepayers from outdated and potentially destructive norms. 

Read the full article at Green Tech Media: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/startup-microgrids-fire-stations#gs.eaFJKLhN

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