In Case of Emergency, Power Up Your House!

If you want to install a “nanogrid” to power your residence or a “microgrid” to power a small community, there is a subsidy for that. Applications for Residents opened on March 1; nonresidential customers can apply starting April 1 

In the wake of the power outage in Topanga during the Woolsey fire and the many red-flag days since, some homeowners are considering installing solar and battery-powered systems to keep the lights on in case of a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS).

According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) provides financial assistance to support existing, new, and emerging distributed energy resources.

If you want to generate your own power, applying for a subsidy through SGIP could be a good option for your home or business.

Currently, one must pay to install the systems, yet if it qualifies for a subsidy, it could go a long way to offset the cost.

According to the CPUC website, “SGIP offers rebates to residential, commercial, industrial, government, and non-profit customers who install qualifying types of distributed generation to meet all or a portion of their own energy needs.”

The SGIP can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while also helping reduce electrical system demand. In turn, that  helps reduce the need to build expensive fossil fuel-fired power plants.

“SGIP provides rebates for qualifying distributed energy systems installed on the customer’s side of the utility meter,” the website shows. “Qualifying technologies include wind turbines, waste heat to power technologies, pressure reduction turbines, internal combustion engines, microturbines, gas turbines, fuel cells, and advanced energy storage systems.”

The program opened for residential customers on March 1; nonresidential customers can apply starting April 1.

There are several rebate levels based on the technology type you use and how much energy you generate.

To learn if your system qualifies for the subsidy, go to the CPUC website for the most up-to-date information on the current status of the SGIP budget at

Alternatively, you can contact Southern California Edison (SCE) at;

email at or (626) 302-0610.



In the Canyon, of course, there is a committee for the program. As part of the Topanga Emergency Management Task Force, a sub-committee known as the Microgrid Working Group (MWG) was formed in February to assess the viability of creating microgrids at public and community buildings to provide power for up to 15,000 residences.

MWG Mission Statement: “It is our mission to enhance emergency preparedness for the residents of Topanga by collaborating, assisting, advising, and engaging with public and private entities to ensure that residents are not left without critical power services during wildfire season.”

“Under the leadership of the Topanga Emergency Management (TEM) Task Force, the Microgrid Working Group’s long-term goal is to combat vulnerabilities that arise from SCE’s power shutoffs by developing a reliable and sustainable microgrid for the Topanga community. In the short and medium-term, the MWG intends to aid and identify resources for residential and commercial facilities to install their own electric generation that will provide power during widespread PSPS events.”

According to the MWG committee, while there is a clear set-aside for people in high-fire-risk areas and the medically vulnerable, questions remain as to whether there is a set-aside for low-income households. The committee notes that  many customers who have participated in SGIP in the past have relied on a contractor to navigate the complex application and permitting process.



  • Identify public assistance programs like SGIP that provide financial assistance for the installation of energy storage and other energy resources to customers who live within high-fire-threat districts.
  •  Identify barriers and challenges of such programs and work towards feasible, effective solutions.
  • Support legislation and budget requests aimed at long-term microgrid development.
  • Identify Public Safety Refuges (PSR) as potential microgrid resilience centers.
  • Conduct meaningful and consistent outreach that will be accessible to all Topanga residents.

Ensure that such programs, services, and opportunities are equitable and available to low-income and vulnerable community members.


Annemarie Donkin

Annemarie Donkin is a journalist who wrote for The Signal in Valencia, CA and was the Managing Editor for the Topanga Messenger from 2013 to 2016. She is thrilled to write for the Messenger Mountain News to continue the tradition of excellent community newspapers. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel throughout California, read, watch movies and keep bees.

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