ORIGINAL REPORTING: Don’t Stop Thinking About Recovery
A 21st Century Distribution System Will Provide Economic Recovery
Herman K. Trabish, July 15, 2020 (California Current)
Editor’s note: What comes after this pandemic depends on what policymakers set in motion during it.
In response to the Covid-19 economic downturn, energy sector stakeholders are calling for a national transmission system and grid modernization but California should take a state-centric approach, local clean energy advocates said.
“Local level economic recovery can come from distribution system modernization,” V. John White, Center for energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies executive director, told Current. The benefit of investments in renewables after the 2008 recession exceeded the costs, which are now far less. “Stimulus funding will go farther to meet California’s climate goals faster.”
Grid modernization can extend to distributed energy resources like rooftop solar and storage, demand response, and transportation and building electrification, Erica Bowman, Southern California Edison Director of Resource Planning and Resource Strategy, added. “All of them could put stimulus money into economic activity and feed a recovery.”
There are four key principles of stimulus and recovery, according to a new Rocky Mountain Institute analysis. Spending should create job and economic growth, improve public health or resilience, and advance renewables and decarbonization. Distribution system modernization aligns with those principles, Rushad Nanavatty, RMI Senior Principal, said.
“Covid-19 wiped out five years of solar job growth, so it’s really important to emphasize this labor-intensive segment of the industry in the context of an economic recovery,” Nanavatty added. Distributed energy resources and energy efficiency are particularly important because they are “hard to off-shore and predominantly blue-collar.”
Distributed renewables and energy efficiency also provide wildfire resilience. In addition, they allow further phasing out of the fossil fuel generation that causes the respiratory health-compromising pollution, which the pandemic exacerbates… click here for more