Blue Lake Rancheria, a Native American reservation in Northern California, and Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center have partnered with Siemens to build a low-carbon community microgrid to power the government offices, economic enterprises, and critical Red Cross safety shelter-in-place facilities across 100 acres.
The microgrid, funded in part through a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, will be powered by a 0.5 MW solar photovoltaic installation, 950 kWh battery storage system, a biomass fuel cell system, and diesel generators. Operators will manage and control these energy resources with Siemens Spectrum Power Microgrid Management System (SP MGMS) software. The microgrid will allow the reservation to operate independently of the power grid in coordination with local utility Pacific Gas & Electric. This project constitutes the largest solar array in Humboldt County, California and is estimated to reduce 150 tons of carbon per year.
“This project shows the type of leadership and partnership that can advance California’s climate and renewable energy goals, help transform our energy system and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said California Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. “This collaborative and innovative project will demonstrate how microgrid systems can increase energy resiliency and planning, a Humboldt County priority. Having a microgrid at Blue Lake Rancheria—an American Red Cross Disaster Center and federally recognized Native American Tribe—can increase public safety in emergency situations and the Rancheria will benefit from it year-round by having renewable energy to use and technology that can store it.”
Using Siemens microgrid management software, Blue Lake Rancheria will be able to accurately predict the reservation’s power load needs and dynamically manage and control its distributed power generation through integrated weather and load forecasting. The reservation will use this detailed power usage insight to provide its residents and businesses with reliable, high-quality power without fear of outages or power interruption.
“This project is an exemplary and successful collaboration between tribal, local, state, and federal entities, assertively working toward clean energy initiatives,” said Jana Ganion, Energy Director for the Rancheria. “When the Tribe started working on climate issues, it had a vision of powering the Rancheria with renewable resources. With this project, that vision is largely realized, and it is thanks to the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, the foresight and contribution by the California Energy Commission, Siemens, Pacific Gas and Electric, Colburn Electric, our other project partners, the Tribal government’s investment and long term support, and the determination of our tribal staff.”
The SP MGMS software is “operator-free” and does not require traditional 24-7 monitoring. The solution is built on a utility grade SCADA platform giving it the power to handle any microgrid application and ensure interoperability with other load control systems.
The microgrid is planned to be installed and operational by fall 2016.
ST Staff Writers
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.