Technical Update: Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid

Aerial image of coastline and town of McKinleyville, CA, with airport marked

Site of the Redwood Coast Airport microgrid, image courtesy of Google Earth

This fall, we have been working on project initiation tasks in advance of our technical team kickoff in early 2019. Here are some of the highlights:

  1. The contract with our major partner, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), is completed and approved by the RCEA Board of Directors. We also have completed contracts with TRC Solutions and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
  2. We are in the late stages of procurement contracting for the 2 MW photovoltaic array and the 8 MWh battery energy storage system.
  3. We are working on a Memorandum of Understanding between the Schatz Center, RCEA, and the County of Humboldt to solidify the roles and responsibilities of each organization during the project implementation process.
  4. We are continuing to work through the final approval process with the Federal Aviation Administration to site the microgrid on airport property.
  5. RCEA will be utilizing a loan from US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service to provide much of their cost share for the project. We are working with RCEA to complete the application process for the loan.
  6. We are ramping up our work with Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) project team in preparation for tariff development work, engineering design, and lab testing activities scheduled for 2019.

By March of 2019, we will have all of our contracts in place and will be underway with our electrical design, preparing an interconnection application with PG&E, working with TRC on business model evaluation and cybersecurity planning, and beginning tariff development work with RCEA and PG&E.

The Redwood Coast Airport Renewable Energy Microgrid is funded by a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge and a $6 million match from the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. During an energy outage, the microgrid’s controller will use the 2 MW photovoltaic array and 8 MWh battery to form an electrical island to maintain power for the airport and the adjoining U.S. Coast Guard Air Station. The solar electric system in the microgrid is expected to generate over 3,100 MWh of electricity per year, with most of the energy going to RCEA’s Community Choice Energy Customers through the CAISO wholesale market. A portion of that renewable electricity will be credited directly to the airport’s electricity meters, offsetting approximately 80% of the electrical usage of their two largest electricity accounts. This system will be the first multi-customer, front-of-the-meter microgrid in PG&E’s service territory. It will integrate a microgrid circuit owned by an investor-owned utility (PG&E) with generation owned by a local community choice aggregator (RCEA).