GRID IE Installs First Battery Back-up Microgrid System

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September 25, 2017

GRID IE is approaching an important milestone in October as a 90 kW microgrid system will be installed at the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe’s Community Center in Havasu Lake, California. The microgrid represents another successful project that has already seen the GRID-Chemehuevi partnership blossom with over 80 residential solar systems installed on tribal homes. The partnership has also produced a Solar Spring Break with Duke University and provided photovoltaic (PV) training for over 20 tribal members.

Solar represents an important component of the tribe’s goal to become more energy independent. The reservation routinely sees triple digit temperatures from April to September, causing electric bills to spike. Residents also experience power outages on a regular basis according to Chemehuevi Vice-Chairman Glenn Lodge. “High winds, bird strikes and the monsoon season all contribute to power failures,” Glenn explained. “On occasion, power will be out for up to three days, which is concerning, especially for community members with medical conditions or tribal elders.”

Existing residential solar, coupled with the new microgrid system will deliver tangible results towards Chemehuevi’s energy independence goal. The microgrid features a solar carport PV structure that includes a Primus Power flow battery energy storage system with advanced data analytics and smart energy management controls. Once operational, engineers at UC Riverside’s CE-CERT will use their energy management control algorithms to implement optimal power management strategies.  According to Glenn, the project is designed to be repeatable and lessons learned are expected to serve as a model for other tribes who have similar energy independence goals.

The microgrid’s impact on tribal members will be both physical and economic. Glenn mentioned that the Community Center serves low-income families who rely on the facility as an emergency evacuation source with backup power currently produced by a diesel generator. The Center provides necessities such as a place to sleep, shower and a cool place for tribal elders to stay during blackouts. “We also expect a financial impact as well,” Glenn stated. “Cost savings from reduced electricity usage will be applied to other housing and community projects that help members who need it most.”

As the microgrid project is nearing an early October completion date, Glenn took a moment to reflect on the GRID-Chemehuevi partnership. “We have had a successful history,” he said. “GRID understands solar systems, both residential and microgrid. The GRID team is well-versed in power purchase agreements and are familiar with the various types of grants available at the state and national level. They also train community members in solar installation, building the skills of individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in the solar industry.”

If you are a developer or responsible for multifamily housing, contact GRID today. We provide technical assistance to policymakers, affordable housing providers, government agencies, and Native American tribes across the country. You can reach GRID IE’s Multifamily Manager Anthony Papavero at 951.266.5416 or by email at apapavero@gridalternatives.org