California Renewable Energy Microgrid Comes Online

June 7, 2022

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
June 7, 2022

California’s first 100% renewable energy, front-of-the-meter, multi-customer microgrid is now fully operational. Located in Humboldt County, Calif., the microgrid provides energy resilience for a regional airport and U.S. Coast Guard Air Station.

This microgrid was developed through a first-of-its-kind partnership between the Schatz Energy Research Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, Pacific Gas & Electric, the County of Humboldt, TRC, The Energy Authority, Tesla, Inc., and Schweitzer Engineering Labs.

Research and development was supported through a $5 million grant from California’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC), a statewide program which invests in scientific and technological research to accelerate the transformation of the electricity sector to meet the state’s energy and climate goals, as well as by $6 million from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, a joint powers agency that provides renewable energy to Humboldt County.

The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid (RCAM) features a 2.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic array that is DC-coupled to a 2-megawatt (9 megawatt-hour) battery energy storage system, comprised of three Tesla Megapacks.

During standard blue-sky operations, RCAM generates renewable energy for the North Coast, and participates in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) wholesale energy markets, including the day-ahead, real time, and ancillary services markets.

When a power outage occurs, the microgrid islands from the main grid and energizes the circuit that encompasses the airport, the adjacent Coast Guard Air Station, and several neighboring facilities. RCAM will provide seamless, ongoing electricity for all customers in the microgrid circuit during any local outages, Redwood Coast Energy Authority noted.

As the first microgrid in the CAISO market and the first renewable, front-of-the-meter microgrid system in the state, RCAM is building a replicable business model for renewable microgrid deployment, it added.

Additional details about the microgrid are available here.

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