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Inequitable access to distributed energy resources due to grid infrastructure limits in California

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Persistent social disparities in the adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs) have prompted calls for enabling more equitable uptake. However, there are indications that limits inherent to grid infrastructure may hinder DER adoption. In this study we analysed grid limits to new DER integration across California’s two largest utility territories. We found that grid limits reduce access to solar photovoltaics to less than half of households served by these two utilities, and may hinder California’s electric vehicle adoption and residential load electrification goals. We connected these results to demographic characteristics and found that grid limits also exacerbate existing inequities: households in increasingly Black-identifying and disadvantaged census block groups have disproportionately less access to new solar photovoltaic capacity based on circuit hosting capacity. Our results illuminate the need for equity goals to be an input in the design of policies for prioritizing grid upgrades.

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