Reducing Costs of Deploying Backup Power in California

Tesla Powerwall


The California Investor Owned Utilities (Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric) are currently preventing customers from using new technologies that can facilitate faster and more economical access to back-up power. We are asking customers to let the utilities know that in the face of another potentially devastating fire season, they should be facilitating rather than preventing customer access to solutions that help them safeguard their homes and families from outages.



California’s energy system has experienced unprecedented reliability challenges over the past several years. The ongoing threat of fire risk and associated efforts by California Investor Owned Utilities to mitigate that risk through the use of Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) has resulted in hundreds of thousands of customers being without power for days at a time, as the utilities preemptively deenergize powerlines in high fire risk areas. PSPS outages appear likely to be a fact of life in California for years to come. 

This reality has driven substantial demand for backup solutions, like battery storage. To reduce the costs and streamline deployment of the Tesla Powerwall, Tesla has developed an innovative technology, call the Tesla Backup Switch, which can substantially reduce the costs of installation. This solution, which plugs into the meter socket of the customer’s electrical panel, avoids the need to do extensive rewiring which is otherwise required in most cases because of a type of electrical panel that is prevalent throughout California. The Tesla Backup Switch is certified to the same safety standard as the meter socket itself and is compatible with the vast majority of electrical panels deployed throughout the state. Not only does the Backup Switch reduce costs, it also results in simpler and more attractive installation by eliminating a significant amount of hardware that would otherwise be necessary.

Unfortunately, at this time the Backup Switch cannot be used in California because of utility opposition. Through their electrical service rules, the Investor Owned Utilities currently prohibit the use of third-party devices like the Backup Switch. The utilities have not presented a credible technical basis for denying customers access to this technology, and as a result, are needlessly increasing customer costs as they seek to protect their homes and families from long duration outages resulting from utility reliance on Public Safety Power Shutoffs as a fire risk-mitigation tool.

Let the California Investor Owned utilities know that facilitating the ability of customers to protect themselves from outages needs to be a top priority and that they need to modify their rules to allow customers to utilize the Tesla Backup Switch.   

Tesla Powerwall in Storm