Carnegie Mellon University
November 11, 2019

Jaramillo featured in New York Times

Lucas Valone

The Department of Enigineering and Public Policy's Paulina Jaramillo was featured in an October New York Times article about power outages in California in response to the high rate of wildfires in the region. In order to try to prevent new wildfires from starting, and existing ones from spreading, power company PG&E has begun to strategically turn off power lines to prevent them from becoming overworked and overheating. This move has been met by crticism from California residents and energy experts who argue that there are other approcahes to solving this issue other than shutting off power to over 2 million residents. 

One of the approaches, called microgrids, involves using power sources like solar panels and diesel engines to provide electricity for a community, a cluster of buildings or even a manufacturing site. Because that electricity circulates only locally, a microgrid can eliminate the need to transmit power over long distances. A town that uses microgrids can disconnect from the main grid either temporarily or permanently, depending on how the microgrid is designed. 

EPP's Jaramillo had this to say about mircogrids: "A lot of interest in minigrids in the United States has been in response to disasters. Large centralized grids usually have a cost advantage because of economies of scale, but if there are reliability risks, it makes sense for communities to take into account the cost of those outages.”