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Hi Johanna, I want to clarify one point I made in my first response. We've designed a way to use fuel cells in a daisy chain that will synch to the predictable diurnal fluctuations of a primarily solar-powered microgrid. This way fuel cells can maintain a proper balance of power for the entire system with flow batteries and perhaps some lithium ion phosphate batteries (not lithium ion cobalt because of heat issues), which would be used for instant ramping during unpredictable fluctuations.

To your point about substations - I agree. The use of existing substations is not required - however use of the existing distribution grid will make this transition affordable. There will be some rewiring and upgrading needed, but some funding for upgrades are already baked into the budgets of utilities. The utilities own and control the distribution grids, which is why having their buy-in would be the best-case scenario. There are current legal limits about crossing public streets with privately owned wires that prevent a secondary distribution grid from being built. This law is one of the reasons microgrids are very easy to build on a college campus or a hospital campus, but harder to build for a neighborhood. If the utilities won't participate (I think they will), we may need to find a way to adjust the current law.

We can come together in communities to demand control of our energy systems and our energy destiny. There are tools like the Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) legal framework to begin this process quickly. But, as this challenge has identified, we will need to build power at the neighborhood level to make this all happen.

If I had another crack at it, as part of this challenge, I might propose a CCA incubator to help spread the concept and accelerate the development of CCAs around California as quickly as possible. I believe such an aggregator is already forming but I'm not clear on the details or the feasibility at the moment.

here's another one:

Rad! I would suggest tweeting at Jigar Shah - he's a totally wonderful guy and may respond with some leads for solar company execs to discuss this idea.