US Native American reserve to create community microgrid

Blue Lake Rancheria community microgridjpg
Community microgrid: The Blue Lake Hotel, which was built in 2009 as the first hotel in California to be used as an energy-efficiency model by PG&E, will be one of many businesses powered by renewable energy sources

In the US, a Native American reservation in Northern California has plans to develop a community microgrid in partnership with utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

The community of Blue Lake Rancheria has commissioned Siemens to supply the smart grid and energy management technology for a microgrid to deliver power to businesses, government buildings and a Red Cross emergency shelter, reports

The role of PG&E, a utility that provides natural gas and electricity to most of the northern two-thirds of California, will be to ensure that the community microgrid integrates with the larger grid.

Any excess power generated will be sold to PG&E under a net-metering agreement.

The utility’s engineers will also conduct a case study to see how microgrids with renewable energy can be deployed and maintained, states the report.

Another pillar of the project is the Schatz Energy Research Centre at Humboldt State University, whose engineers will oversee the design and installation of the microgrid.

Community microgrid

The Native American community aims to use the microgrid to generate roughly half of the energy needed by the facilities using clean, renewable sources.

As a designated Red Cross emergency shelter, Blue Lake Rancheria also needs a source of reliable power that can operate in the event of a long-term grid outage.

After a natural disaster, diesel generators will come online to supplement the green energy from solar, storage, and fuel cells.

Among other uses, the shelter will employ microgrid energy to create clean drinking water for emergency use.

A 500 kW photovoltaic array will convert sunlight into over 900 MWh of electricity every year, and an innovative biomass processing facility will convert sawdust and other clean waste into hydrogen for fuel cells.

Siemens is supplying its Spectrum Power Microgrid Management System to connect the different components as well as deliver automated weather forecasts, load analysis and real-time price monitoring to determine when to buy, sell or store electricity, states the trade press report.

In 2014, Blue Lake Rancheria was recognised by the White House as a Climate Action Champion, one of only sixteen communities to earn that honour.