Demonstrating a Secure Reliable Low-Carbon Community Microgrid at Blue Lake Rancheria
January 31, 2019
Energy Research and Development (500)
Electric Program Investment Charge - EPIC
David Carter, Doug Saucedo, Jim Zoellick, Charles Chamberlin, Marc Marshall, Steve Shoemaker, Greg Chapman, Jana Ganion, Peter Lehman, Pramod Singh
This project demonstrates a secure, reliable, low-carbon community microgrid at the Blue Lake Rancheria, a federally recognized tribal government and Native American community adjacent to Blue Lake (Humboldt County). The project shows the feasibility of integrating renewable energy with battery storage, a microgrid controller, and controllable loads into a single microgrid. The microgrid supports an American Red Cross evacuation center and a six-building campus. The project improved resiliency for the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe and the surrounding region. The microgrid includes 420 kilowatts of solar photovoltaics, and a 500 kW/950 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery energy storage system. The microgrid is connected to the Pacific Gas and Electric distribution grid at 12.5 kilovolts through a computer-controlled circuit breaker and is designed to operate autonomously. The project was completed on time and with only minor cost overruns (less than 1.5 percent of project cost). The project was recognized internationally including receipt of Federal Emergency Management Agency’s 2017 Whole Community Preparedness Award and DistribuTECH’s 2018 Project of the Year for DER Integration Award. Energy savings to the Blue Lake Rancheria was about $160,000 in 2017 and beginning in 2018 will increase to nearly $200,000 annually. In October 2017, a nearby fire caused a grid outage. The microgrid successfully islanded and kept the microgrid facilities from experiencing a blackout. The greenhouse gas emission reductions for 2017 are estimated to be 159 tons carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and are expected to reach 175tons CO2e/year in 2018 and beyond.