While Wall Street discovers an untapped market in California, the sudden increase in home generators is raising environmental and health concerns
By Leticia Miranda | NBC News
Generators have long been a fixture in states with frequent snowstorms and tornadoes — not in mild California. But that was before the state utility Pacific Gas & Electric announced it would be implementing rolling blackouts for the next decade to protect against wildfires, plunging residents into darkness for hours at a time and driving a boom in backup generators. While Wall Street rejoices over an untapped market, the surge in home generators is raising questions among environmental advocates about increased pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning and fire hazards.
Compounding the situation, California’s air quality regulatory agency announced last week that it would allow manufacturers to sell generators that don’t meet California’s strict emissions standards through December — a move that will lead to an influx of generators that emit more harmful toxins and particulates into the air than federally approved engines.
“We’re facing this weird new world where PG&E is going to be able to shut down power and put people out of power for more days at a time,” Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at the UCLA School of Law, told NBC News. “The whole question shifts because suddenly you have lots and lots of generators being run all the time. … We don’t know what the cumulative impact will be.”