Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid

A community driven, front-of-the-meter, multi customer microgrid serving critical facilities

Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation

Recipient

Arcata, CA

Recipient Location

2nd

Senate District

2nd

Assembly District

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$1,931,439

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

Site preparation activities were completed in 2020 and the microgrid is on track to be constructed in the summer of 2021. The final designs were completed for the site electrical and civil works and for the PG&E distribution system upgrades. The interconnection switchgear is fully designed and in the manufacturing queue. The FAA airspace obstruction analysis team approved the project and their environmental team finalized and circulated the Environmental Assessment. The County Supervisors and the RCEA Board of Directors have approved a land lease for the project. A microgrid operating agreement between PG&E and RCEA has been drafted and is in legal review. The team provided valuable input to the CPUC's microgrid proceeding and the CAISO's hybrid resource initiative in multiple meetings and public workshops.

The Issue

As load serving entities, community choice aggregators (CCA) are procuring local community-scale renewable generation and energy storage to serve their customers. IOUs are updating interconnection processes, developing tariff structures, and grappling with the effects of more intermittent renewable energy on the grid. Meanwhile, climate change has increased the frequency and severity of natural disasters, highlighting the importance of resilient electricity supplies to keep critical facilities operating in times of need. This project will demonstrate a replicable model for multi-customer critical facility microgrids, including potential tariff structures between a CCA and a utility.

Project Innovation

This project is a community-scale renewable energy microgrid located at the California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport. It will deploy and demonstrate the first multi-customer, front-of-the-meter (FTM) microgrid on PG&E's distribution system. The generation resources will be owned and operated by a CCA (Redwood Coast Energy Authority or RCEA) and will be 100% renewable. The microgrid circuit will be owned and operated by PG&E. This microgrid will allow the CCA to participate in the wholesale electricity market and provide renewable energy for the airport during normal operations, It will also provide low carbon resilience through islanding capabilities that serve critical facilities: a commercial airport and a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. Controllable EV chargers also will be installed at the airport terminal parking lot.

Project Benefits

In order to manage increased DERs, California needs sophisticated DER management systems and strategies, and microgrids can play an important role. This project will lead to significant technological advancements and breakthroughs by deploying a highly automated, multi-customer microgrid to provide end-use customer resiliency support and wholesale market participation with renewable energy. Islanding will be demonstrated for the customers behind the meter. RCEA will collaborate with PG&E to create experimental tariffs and agreements for operating multi-customer microgrids. These tariffs and agreements will become important examples to other utilities and CCAs and inform the CPUC's microgrid tariff proceeding.

Lower Costs

Affordability

The solar PV array will lower annual energy purchases by using onsite renewable energy resources to meet a portion of the onsite load; thus, lowering costs. Directly coupling the battery and photovoltaic array will reduce the cost of required distribution system upgrades.

Economic Development

Economic Development

The microgrid, with an estimated 3100 MWh/yr of renewable electricity generation coupled with energy storage, is estimated to generate an annual economic benefit of approximately $356,000. During the construction phase, an estimated 37 full time jobs will be created, with $1.5M in earnings and $3.4M in economic output expected.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

Over 3100 MWh/yr of renewable electricity will be generated. This is estimated to result in CO2 emission reductions of over 880 MT/yr.

Greater Reliability

Reliability

Reliability and resilience will be increased for the commercial airport and US. Coast Guard Air Station (two critical regional facilities). Due to the remote and isolated location of Humboldt County, these critical facilities will provide the means to transport critical supplies into and around the region in a large-scale emergency. Because of the large PV array and storage battery relative to onsite islanded peak loads, the microgrid will be able to supply nearly continuous renewable power in the event of a prolonged outage.

Key Project Members

Project Member

David Carter

Managing Research Engineer

Contact the Team

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