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California Native American reservation launches microgrid

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Blue Lake Rancheria, a century-old Native American reservation in northern California, has launched its low-carbon community microgrid that is helping power government offices, economic enterprises, and critical Red Cross safety shelter facilities connect across 100 acres.

In collaboration with Humboldt State University's Schatz Energy Research Center, Siemens, Idaho National Laboratory and additional partners, the microgrid uses decentralized energy resources and intelligent software to provide its residents and economic enterprises with reliable power without interruption.
Blue Lake Rancheria image
The microgrid includes a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system designed and built by REC Solar and a 950 kWh Tesla battery storage system, all managed and controlled with Siemens Spectrum Power Microgrid Management System (MGMS) software.

Funded in part through a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission's Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, the system allows the reservation to operate independently of the power grid in coordination with local utility Pacific Gas & Electric. This project incorporates the largest solar array in currently in operation in Humboldt County, California, is estimated to save the Tribe over $200,000 in annual energy costs, will reduce at least 150 tons of carbon per year and will grow Tribal clean energy jobs by 10 per cent.

“This project demonstrates how national laboratory assets can be leveraged as part of a diverse partnership to reduce risks and build resilient community microgrids,” said Rob Hovsapian, Power & Energy Systems manager at Idaho National Laboratory.

“The continuing trend toward decentralized energy is made feasible in large part by the introduction of intelligent software to manage and control a vast array of energy resources,” said Pat Wilkinson, Vice President at Siemens Digital Grid. “With our intelligent microgrid management software, Blue Lake Rancheria is able to rely on a complex mix of generation and storage to work together to deliver efficient, reliable and cleaner power for the Tribe's government offices and other critical infrastructure.”

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