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Person sitting in a California restaurant lit by candlelight during one of PG&E's shut-offs. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP via Getty Images

One side effect of California utility PG&E shutting off power to roughly 2 million people to deter wildfires: it's effectively a free ad for distributed generation options.

Why it matters: Distributed energy is an important part of creating more resilient power systems at a time when climate change is putting more stress on grids.

  • Greentech Media points out that this isn't lost on California regulators, who "have been looking to distributed energy resources as part of the solution to the state's wildfire-power grid challenge."

Driving the news: The Twitter feed of Sunrun, the country's top residential solar provider is using the blackout to market its products.

  • "#Blackouts are happening now all across #California. Take back control of your home's #energy with Sunrun's Brightbox #solar #battery service and stay powered through the next #outage."
  • It links to a page where customers can explore the purchase of their solar and battery systems. Sunrun even has a separate page about the PG&E shut-offs that notes wildfires are now year-round events in California.

The big picture: They're not the only distributed energy provider that stands to gain.

  • "Suppliers of backup, diesel-fired generators, solar panels, batteries and fuel cells alike see a sales opportunity in the massive power shutoffs rolling out across the San Francisco Bay Area," Bloomberg reports.
  • Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables' analyst Ravi Manghani told Greentech that this week's blackouts mean "the market should see an uptick in battery storage sales."

What they're saying: A Fast Company story last night on the PG&E outages quotes Christopher Burgess of the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute making the case for "community microgrids" that combine solar and batteries.

  • “I could definitely see a future where the transmission lines are just so long and so problematic, and it gets more and more dry due to climate change, and those things just become so much of a vulnerability that it’s actually better just to ‘island off’ certain communities,” he said.

Go deeper: Airports embrace renewable energy to cut air travel emissions

Go deeper

27 mins ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.