With wildfire season around the corner in California, it’s not a question of if the power supply will turn off, but when. In 2019 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) intentionally turned off power to 30 counties to prevent wildfires, impacting over 2.5 million people. And it’s going to get worse. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 58% of California is abnormally dry in 2020 compared to just 6% in 2019, making wildfire season and power outages more frequent than in years prior1. Power shutoffs are planned for 2020, and will likely be a regular practice for the foreseeable future.
Organizations have responded to Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events by rolling out gas and diesel generators. In many cases, these traditional generators are undesirable solutions as they emit toxic fumes, have high operating costs due to fuel and maintenance, and contribute to air and noise pollution. With the benefit of foresight, there are alternatives to traditional generators that are more convenient, clean, and sustainable.
FreeWire Technologies, a San Leandro, California based company, manufactures zero-emission power units that can supplement or replace traditional generators. Mobi Gen is an 80 kWh mobile battery capable of 11 kW continuous power output for essential instruments and all backup power needs. Mobi Gen can be deployed anywhere and includes a built-in drive system and easy-to-use joystick for maneuverability. The unit is recharged from standard 110 V or 240 V wall outlets or Level 2 EV charging stations (J1772 plug).
Below are several innovative examples where Mobi Gen has been deployed for essential power as a replacement for generators, or when there is little or no access to the grid.
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis), uses Mobi Gen to charge its hybrid fleet of vehicles and, in the case of power outages, to power its gas pumps. The gas pumps use about 1.5 kW of power, meaning Mobi Gen could power multiple gas pumps for days before requiring a recharge. UC Davis recharges the Mobi during the day from solar panels, then connects seven fleet vehicles to Mobi Gen at night, providing each of those vehicles with 40 miles of range.
Redwood City deployed Mobi Gen to power a stoplight in a heavily trafficked intersection due to fluctuating power supply at the end of a distribution line causing the stoplight to fail, forcing traffic to a crawl. The utility was backlogged and unable to address the issue for over four months. Mobi provided a temporary solution by working as a voltage buffer between the stoplight and the grid. The unit was stationed at the intersection, plugged into a 110 V outlet, while supplying 300 W to the stoplight. The Mobi remained at nearly 100% charge, didn’t need refueling like a generator would, and didn’t emit pollution or noise, allowing it to be placed near residential homes without complaint. Mobi provided power to the stoplights where over 30,000 cars pass each day.
The City of San Francisco’s Red Cross has integrated Mobi Gen into their warehouse power supply through the unit’s 240-volt outputs to ensure their donated blood is kept at a low temperature in the event of a power loss. Mobi Gen can power the facility and keep the donated blood cool for up to three days. Read more about Mobi and Red Cross.
Off the Grid uses Mobi Gen units to power all of its food trucks on the Google campus. This provides a better experience for both the employees and food truck workers by reducing noise and air pollution compared to traditional generators. Mobi Gen can power three food trucks for six hours a day for three days! Mobi Gen also helps prevent food spoilage during outages.
Other applications include:
As we approach wildfire season, PG&E has proposed a plan to roll out 450 megawatts of mobile generators to provide back up power to various communities2. This exposes residents to toxic emissions and adds to the severity of potential health risks associated with harmful air quality. Innovative solutions like the Mobi Gen provide alternatives to gas/diesel generators while enhancing resiliency and decreasing carbon emissions. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is providing a voucher for over $30K for the Mobi Gen, our battery integrated zero-emission power unit and EV charger.
Whether your area is subject to frequent power outages, the aging grid or vulnerable to natural disasters, blackouts are a risk for everyone across California and the United States.
If you’d like to discuss further how FreeWire can help you prepare for the upcoming wildfire season, PSPS events, EV charging, and leverage existing incentives, schedule a call today.