California reservation installing microgrid to reduce carbon footprint
September 8, 2015
Blue Lake Rancheria, a Native American reservation in northern California, and Humboldt State University’s Schatz Energy Research Center have partnered with German energy company 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 0.4 square kilometres.
The microgrid, funded in part through a $5m grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Programme Investment Charge (EPIC) programme, will be powered by a 0.5MW solar photovoltaic installation, 950kWh 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 centre and federally recognised 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.”
Jana Ganion, energy director for the Rancheria, added: “This project is an exemplary and successful collaboration between tribal, local, state and federal entities, assertively working toward clean energy initiatives. 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 realised, 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 & Electric, Colburn Electric, our other project partners, the tribal government’s investment and long term support, and the determination of our tribal staff.”
Using Siemens microgrid management software, Blue Lake Rancheria will be able to predict accurately 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.
"Pacific Gas & Electric welcomes the opportunity to participate in this project and monitoring the progress as a case study on how microgrids can be deployed in our service area, using multiple sources of renewable energy,” said Carl Schoenhofer, Humboldt Division senior manager for Pacific Gas & Electric. “We will be working closely with the project partners to ensure that all operation modes are done safely, and that the grid is protected as we work to expand these types of emergency power options."
The SP MGMS software is operator-free and does not require traditional round-the-clock monitoring. It 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.
“At a time when we’re seeing efforts at the state and federal levels to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this ground-breaking project will use software to manage a complex mix of power generation and storage to bring clean and reliable power to critical sites across Blue Lake Rancheria’s 100-acre reservation,” said Pat Wilkinson, head of Siemens Energy Automation. “Microgrids are one of the most intelligent, efficient, reliable and secure ways to create and manage power for the needs of a 21st century power market, and we’re proud that our technology will help Blue Lake Rancheria and Humboldt University continue to lead the way in implementing innovative energy systems.”
The microgrid is planned to be installed and operational by autumn 2016.