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A PG&E contractor works on utility poles. Photo: Philip Pacheco/AFP via Getty Images

PG&E will start cutting power Wednesday to about 150,000 customers in 18 California counties in the latest wave of preemptive blackouts to curb wildfire risks.

Why you'll hear about this again: The embattled utility will probably need to keep doing this for a long time. But the blackouts are just one force speeding the rise of what Shayle Kann of the VC firm Energy Impact Partners calls "resilience culture."

  • It's how Kann, in a new Medium post, describes the wider move among people, local officials and companies to prepare assets for severe weather and disasters.
"I think we’re on the cusp of a cultural transformation, one in which the idea of investing in resilience gains mainstream status for anyone who owns something worth protecting."
Shayle Kann

Where is stands: He explores how the PG&E shutoffs have accelerated the trend of companies marketing backup power like generators and solar-plus-storage systems.

  • But that's just one part of the picture.
  • The post covers a spike in backup power interest after 2017's Hurricane Harvey hit Texas; the benefits of fire-resistant buildings; widening recognition of the need for utilities to invest in infrastructure hardening and more.

The bottom line: Kann cites analyses showing that retrofitting homes to harden against disasters is a slam-dunk from a cost-benefit standpoint, and that utility investments in resilient equipment will yield ratepayer savings.

What's next: Kann, whose post is adapted from his wider presentation at Energy Impact Partners' annual meeting and touts their portfolio companies, acknowledges that resilience investments have "historically been a tough sell."

  • But he adds: "[M]y bet is that every year that we break records for new threats, we’ll inch toward this resilience mindset."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

15 mins ago - Health

White House says Obamacare sign-ups hit record

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaking in the White House in December 2021. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House said Thursday that a record 14.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare marketplaces since Nov. 1, including more than 10 million enrollments through HealthCare.gov.

Why it matters: Last year's stimulus bill contained substantial investments in the program, including increased subsidies for people who don't receive health insurance from an employer or through Medicare or Medicaid.

36 mins ago - World

Kremlin says U.S. written responses ignored Russia's main NATO demand

Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Dimitar DilkoffI/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that the United States' written answers to Russia's security demands do not contain a "positive response" to the Kremlin's top priority, which is a freeze on NATO expansion, according to Russian state media.

Why it matters: A spokesperson for the Kremlin stressed that no conclusions will be drawn until Russian President Vladimir Putin has time to analyze the papers, but a lack of movement on Russia's core concerns means the crisis over Ukraine is unlikely to de-escalate.

How your plumber could lead the electric vehicle revolution

Ford Pro Intelligence gives farmers access to important data on every vehicle – whether gas-powered or electric. Image courtesy of Ford.

Businesses like farmers, contractors and delivery companies — not individual consumers — will lead America into the electric vehicle era, judging from how demand is currently shaping up.

Why it matters: While consumers are waiting on the sidelines to see if the charging infrastructure improves and prices come down, commercial businesses see EVs as a way to boost their productivity and improve operations.