Toward a Resilient California

Strengthening Climate-Vulnerable Communities with Solar+Energy Storage Hubs

California is considered one of North America’s highest-risk regions for extreme climate change impacts. Increasingly, Californians are coming face to face with this reality as communities across the state experience catastrophic wildfires, record-breaking heatwaves, and extended power outages.

Meeting these historic challenges will require solutions that both lower greenhouse gas emissions and help California’s most at-risk communities adapt. One emerging approach is the concept of a community resilience hub: a locally-based facility offering a range of resources and services that help community members become more resilient in the face of disaster. 

Bolstered by a secure, clean power supply, such as solar and energy storage systems, resilience hubs can provide safe locations for people to charge cell phones when their power is out, cool down when temperatures spike, and breathe clean air on smoky days. For vulnerable populations who rely on electricity to power medical equipment, or who lack access to air conditioning or transportation for evacuation, these resources may be particularly valuable.

PSE Healthy Energy is working with the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) and Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) to identify opportunities to build solar+energy storage resilience hubs at schools and community centers across California. PSE is identifying sites statewide; evaluating the design parameters needed to meet critical electric loads in the event of earthquakes, wildfires, public safety power shutoffs, or other disaster-induced electricity outages; and analyzing demographic and vulnerability metrics for populations in proximity to these sites to inform deployment scenarios and priorities. 

At the community level, APEN and CBE are working closely with environmental justice communities in Richmond and Wilmington to identify specific school and community center sites, develop community engagement strategies, and incorporate community-specific needs and priorities into project designs. These community findings will help inform PSE’s statewide analysis, enabling us to provide grounded recommendations for the development of resilient solar+storage systems at schools and community sites statewide. This project will provide a framework for State climate mitigation and adaptation efforts to advance clean energy, promote public health benefits, reflect community needs, and equitably provide resilience for communities throughout California.

The community resilience hubs project is supported by California Strategic Growth Council’s Climate Change Research Program with funds from California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment – particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Please find our work below and check back regularly for updates!