Peter Maloney, Microgrid Knowledge
An airport microgrid is moving forward on the far northern coast of California that could provide relief for planned utility power shutoffs and be a template for other, similar projects.
The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid began about two years ago when Humboldt County’s Board of Supervisors gave the green light for the project to seek up to $5 million in funding from the California Energy Commission.
The project originated at the Schatz Energy Research Center (SERC), an affiliate of Humboldt State University’s Environmental Resources Engineering program. Other partners on the project include the county’s Public Works Aviation Division, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), which is a community choice aggregation.
SERC also took the lead in designing and implementing the microgrid at Blue Lake Rancheria, a Native American reservation in Humboldt County. The Redwood Coast Airport project was conceived as SERC was finishing up the microgrid for the casino and hotel at Blue Lake Rancheria, said Jim Zoellick, managing research engineer at SERC.
“We were wondering what to do next,” Zoellick said. “We had received funding through the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge, and knew there was another round of microgrids coming.”
EPIC, a $130 million a year ratepayer funded research project, has so far provided $84.5 million for 20 microgrid projects at 30 sites.