October's Power Shutoffs Prompt Interest in Getting off the Grid

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Smokes rises from a back fire set by fire fighters near a hillside near PG&E power lines during firefighting operations to battle the Kincade Fire in Healdsburg, California on October 26, 2019. (PHILIP PACHECO/AFP via Getty Images)

As California experiences repeated "public safety power shutoffs" this wildfire season, some Californians are making plans to power their homes and businesses without relying on the grid. The recent fires and blackouts have put a renewed focus on the reliability and safety of existing electrical infrastructure, as well as the unexpected costs and risks of relying on a grid that may be powered off during a disaster. This hour, Forum looks at getting off the grid and alternative energy options to power homes and small communities.


Ram Rajagopal, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, Stanford University

Lauren Sommer, science and environment reporter, KQED

Catherine Wolfram, professor of business administration, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley