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When the POWER goes OUT

“ Upgrades to the local power grid will include replacing portions of existing 115 kV transmission lines and building a new substation and two new transmission lines . The project will provide the power grid in southern Santa Clara County with an additional connection to the regional transmission system , increasing the local grid ’ s capacity and reliability .”
PG & E , South County Power Connect , Fact Sheet , July 2016
This process often takes four to five years from identification of need to launching a completed project into service . It includes numerous opportunities for public comment . While South County residents can ’ t dictate what ’ s done with our power infrastructure , we can advocate for local needs to influence state-level decisions .
With that being said , we can only make our voices heard if we educate ourselves about the facts , communicate our concerns to our city councilmembers , and show up at public meetings armed with informed comments and probative questions .

RESOURCES

Pacific Gas & Electric — pge . com Silicon Valley Clean Energy Authority — svcleanenergy . org California Energy Commission — energy . ca . gov / portfolio / California Independent System Operator ( California ISO ) — caiso . com
With longer , hotter summers , and more people turning to electricity as part of their clean energy mix , we need to think about outages . We ’ ve all heard the Flex Alerts issued by the California Independent System Operator , asking residents and businesses to voluntarily cut back on electricity use during peak hours ( 2 - 9 pm ). The major culprit is air conditioning .
Overloading the power grid not only causes outages but can also damage equipment in local power facilities . Are the rolling blackouts that signaled California ’ s 2000 and 2001 energy crisis a thing of the past ? Perhaps . Our grid infrastructure is more robust , with more generating capacity using more renewable resources .
We ’ ve added solar generation to the grid . And the heavy winter snowmelt has brought us more hydropower this summer than in years past . But questions remain . Does the state have enough power capacity to meet its needs ? How tight are supplies ? Is conservation needed ?
Where a power plant is physically located can dictate how effectively and efficiently electricity can be delivered to where it ’ s needed , and congestion on the power lines can limit the ability to do that . PG & E wants to build more substations in South County , but we don ’ t currently know where or when .
The bottom line : we should heed warnings to cut back power during peak periods . It ’ s how we , as individuals , can help make a difference .
GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2017 gmhtoday . com
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