NEWS IN THE WORLD OF POWER AND INTEGRATED BUILDING SYSTEMS
Santa Monica Plans an Advanced Microgrid
> THE CITY OF SAN TA MONICA, CALIF.,
recently received a $1.5 million grant
to plan and design a microgrid that will
incorporate renewable energy (including
solar), combined heat and power, small-scale waste-to-energy, energy storage and
electric vehicle charging.
The grant came from the California
Energy Commission’s Electric Program
Investment Charge (EPIC), which is
set up to fund innovative clean-energy
technologies and approaches that bring
clean-energy ideas to market.
Santa Monica’s grant stems from the
commission’s EPIC Challenge, launched
earlier this year, in which teams
composed of private and government
entities competed against each other
to demonstrate innovative strategies
that could become models to accelerate
the development of zero-net-energy
Santa Monica’s microgrid is being
designed as a 25-acre, “advanced energy
community.” Multiple buildings, both
public and private, on contiguous
properties will be connected to
The core will be the 14.7-acre City
Yards Project, which houses several
municipal departments, including as
water/waste operations, fire rescue and
vehicle fleet maintenance.
Project designers will then identify
ways to “scale up” the microgrid, so that
it can expand beyond the City Yards
Project. One possible future participant
will be a 105-unit mobile-home park that
the city leases to tenants. Many of these
units already have solar panels.
Another may be a 5.8-acre art center,
which features an art gallery, hotel, retail,
restaurant and cultural performance
Besides the specific benefits of the
Santa Monica microgrid, the project
team hopes that the project will provide
a model that others can use to overcome
concerns about upfront costs.
—WILLIAM ATKINSON SM
Map of the City Yards Project area
New England States Collectively Evaluating Renewables
> GOVERNMENT HAS ALWAYS PLAYED
an indispensable role in fostering the
growth of renewable-energy resources.
Just as one city or state can have
tremendous impact, the effect of that
involvement is magnified when multiple
agencies share a common vision.
In New England, three states have
taken a collective approach to energy
planning and are seeking renewable-energy projects with a regional service
area. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are working
with utilities to receive solicitations for clean-energy projects
that would service all three states.
The goal is to leverage their collective purchasing power to
attract clean-energy projects that will offer customers the lowest
possible rates. The results of that collective-bidding process
have been dramatic.
Recently, regulators announced they had received more than
50 solicitations, and “given the complexity of the analysis and
the volume of bids,” they need more time to make a thorough
evaluation. Regulatory approvals are expected later in the year.
Projects include solar, wind, hydro and
fuel cell power generators.
This multistate commitment dates
back several years. New England
governors issued their first joint
statement on regional energy issues in
December 2013. In April 2015, they reaffirmed that commitment.
“We plan to continue to work to seek
out economically beneficial infrastructure
solutions to New England’s power system
challenges,” according to a statement in April 2015. “We are
committed to working as a region to advance New England’s
shared economic, energy, and environmental goals.”
The need for this shared planning vision was underscored
by the New England ISO, the region’s power system operator.
The agency explained, also in 2015, that New England is
challenged by a lack of natural-gas-pipeline infrastructure and
is losing non-gas power plants. Both of these factors threaten
power-system reliability, leading to greater use of costly and
polluting fuel oil.