Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Scaling up renewable power in Humboldt County – Nov 9

Join us on Thursday, November 9 at 5:30 pm in Founders Hall 118 for the final session in this semester’s Sustainable Futures Speaker Series. A panel of energy experts will explore the opportunities and challenges of scaling up renewable power in Humboldt County, through questions such as:

  • If we want to support expanded use of renewable energy, should we prioritize purchasing low cost renewable power from outside the area or generating renewable power locally?
  • How might our relative isolation impact the sale of locally generated renewable energy to the Western grid?
  • How do we balance our critical need for rural resilience with investment in renewable sources such as wind and solar?
  • To what extent is our local grid infrastructure ready to support distributed generation?

Moderator Arne Jacobson (Director, Schatz Energy Research Center) will be joined by Matthew Marshall (Executive Director, Redwood Coast Energy Authority), Antoine Peiffer (Lead Engineer, Principle Power), Jon Stallman (Integrated Grid Planner, Pacific Gas & Electric) and Dave Carter (Managing Research Engineer, Schatz Center) for this forward-looking discussion about clean energy strategies for the north coast.

This speaker series is intended to stimulate cross-disciplinary discussion, debate, and collaboration around issues related to energy, the environment, and society. The series is sponsored by the Schatz Center, the Environment & Community Graduate Program, and the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences at Humboldt State University. For details on upcoming events or to request accessibility accommodations, email serc@humboldt.edu or call (707) 826-4345.

Energy Adoption Patterns in Uganda

The United Nations Capital Development Fund’s CleanStart Programme, in partnership with SolarAid/Acumen and the Schatz Center, is conducting research on energy adoption patterns. This project seeks to determine which channels customers in rural Uganda use to finance and purchase solar systems. We are also investigating the drivers of solar product adoption, including the influence of flexible financing tools on purchasing behavior.

We have learned that the quality of existing energy services plays an important role in shaping customers’ receptiveness to alternative off-grid solutions. Our research also shows that in-person marketing, “real-life” observations, interactions with sales staff, recommendations by thought leaders, and conversations with existing satisfied customers are all strongly influential in driving end-user uptake of solar energy products.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Mara Ervin on October 26

Headshot of Mara Ervin

Join us on Thursday, October 26 at 5:30 pm in Founders Hall 118, for a presentation by Mara Ervin on “Clean energy access: how GRID Alternatives is creating a successful transition to clean, renewable energy that includes everyone.”

Mara Ervin is the Bay Area Development & Programs Manager for GRID Alternatives. Headquartered in Oakland, GRID Alternatives is the nation’s largest nonprofit solar installer. GRID has been recognized as a 2014 White House Champion of Change, a 2017 IREC Energy Hero, and an EPA Climate Change Champion.

Ervin is a graduate of Smith College and has eight years of experience in social equity non-profit development and leadership, including five with GRID’s Bay Area office.

Blue Lake Rancheria Microgrid: project update

The Blue Lake Rancheria (BLR) renewable energy microgrid received full permission to connect to the Pacific Gas & Electric grid on July 28, 2017. Designed and implemented by a team led by the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, this new microgrid powers critical infrastructure for the BLR tribal community and the Humboldt County region.

A microgrid is an independent power generation and management system which can operate both while connected to (parallel) or disconnected from (islanded) the electric power grid. In the event of a power outage, a microgrid enters islanded mode and balances all power generation and electrical loads independent of the utility.

The BLR microgrid breaks new ground in its seamless transition between grid-paralleled and grid-islanded states and by demonstrating stable islanded operation with a high percentage of renewable energy.

This project heralds the first deployment of the Siemens Spectrum 7 based microgrid management system (MGMS) and the first multi-inverter Tesla battery energy storage system (BESS) utilized in a microgrid application. The MGMS and the BESS were integrated using foundational relay control programming developed at the Schatz Center.

At 420 kWAC, the Rancheria’s PV array is also the largest installed in Humboldt County. The BLR microgrid has a total of 1.92 MW of generation capacity, including the PV array, a 500 kW, 950 kWh Lithium-ion Tesla battery, and a legacy 1.0 MW backup diesel generator.

Sun on panels at the Blue Lake Rancheria microgrid

Panel Array at the Blue Lake Rancheria

The microgrid powers numerous building and facility loads, including heating, ventilation and cooling; lighting; water and wastewater systems; communications; food production and storage; and transportation. The BLR green commuter program and electric vehicle infrastructure for the tribal government fleet are supported by the microgrid.

The BLR campus has also been certified to serve as an American Red Cross emergency shelter. The microgrid can maintain stable electricity for the shelter during extreme natural events such as an earthquake, tsunami, flood or wildfire. During an extended grid outage, the Rancheria can designate and shed non-critical energy loads as needed.

By coupling renewable generation with battery storage, the BLR microgrid achieves significant reductions in both utility cost and greenhouse gas emissions. The microgrid is now saving the Blue Lake Rancheria $250,000 annually and has allowed the Rancheria to increase tribal employment by 10% with new clean energy jobs.

The Blue Lake Rancheria microgrid was developed through funding from the California Energy Commission’s EPIC program. Major partners on this project included Pacific Gas & Electric, Siemens, Tesla Energy, Idaho National Laboratory, GHD Inc., Colburn Electric, REC Solar, and Kernen Construction.

• For more information about the Blue Lake Rancheria microgrid and upcoming projects at the Schatz Energy Research Center, call (707) 822-4345 or email serc@humboldt.edu.

• For more information about Blue Lake Rancheria’s sustainability and green energy initiatives, please email info@bluelakerancheria-nsn.gov.

Blue Lake Rancheria receives FEMA’s 2017 Whole Community Preparedness Award

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on September 28 that the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe (BLR) has been chosen to receive the 2017 John D. Solomon Whole Community Preparedness Award for proactive efforts to address emergency preparedness challenges. Arla Ramsey, Vice Chair of the Rancheria, lauded the tribe’s many collaborators in sustainability and disaster preparedness: “Our partnerships have been critical in our preparedness efforts, such as with the Schatz Energy Research Center, who led our low-carbon, community microgrid project and enabled our emergency power platform.”

This award is given in recognition of the high earthquake risk faced by Humboldt County, and the BLR’s efforts to prepare for disaster events and ensuing power loss: “… BLR has transformed the Blue Lake Casino and Event Center into an official public shelter with help from the American Red Cross. BLR also installed a back-up green power micro grid should the regular power grid fail. Using a grant from the Department of Homeland Security, BLR developed a Regional Resilience Training & Innovation Center (RTIC) that offers pre-disaster training and exercises to tribes, local governments, and agencies. The tribe has also distributed 72-hour disaster supply backpacks to residents and employees, and in 2017 held a Resiliency Preparedness Fair for the general public. BLR’s actions have been a model for other tribes and communities, and BLR officials assist other tribes and agencies with their emergency preparedness needs.” Click here to read the full award statement from FEMA…

Congratulations to the Rancheria for this much-deserved recognition of their commitment to emergency preparedness through disaster response training and sustainable, distributed energy generation!

BlueTechValley: opportunities for innovators in energy, water & agriculture

BlueTechValley is seeking entrepreneurs and businesses engaged in energy, water and agricultural innovations. Regional hubs throughout California connect local projects with statewide services including technology evaluation, proof-of-concept validation, training and education, incubator and advisory services, and networking opportunities. Humboldt State University hosts the far Northern California project hub of BlueTechValley.

For more information about submitting a project for consideration, visit btvnc.org or contact the Humboldt Hub Managing Director, Lonny Grafman.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Amy & Daniel Cordalis on October 5

Join us on Thursday, October 5 at 5:30 pm in Founders Hall 118, for a presentation by Amy & Daniel Cordalis on “Breathing life back into the Klamath River.”

Amy & Daniel Cordalis stand against a brick wall, holding hands

Amy & Daniel Cordalis

Amy Cordalis is General Counsel for the Yurok Tribe. She comes from a long line of Yurok Indians from the village of Requa at the mouth of the Klamath River, who have fought for Yurok rights: her great-uncle’s Supreme Court case, Mattz v. Arnett, confirmed the Yurok Reservation as Indian Country and set the stage for the Tribe’s federally reserved fishing and water rights. Cordalis received her undergraduate from the University of Oregon and her JD from the University of Denver College of Law. Before returning home to work for the Yurok Tribe in 2014, Cordalis worked for the Native American Rights Fund and Berkey Williams LLP on a wide range of Indian law issues.

Daniel Cordalis is a member of the Navajo Nation and a practicing attorney in natural resources and Indian law. Cordalis clerked for the Colorado Supreme Court and the Native American Rights Fund, and worked for the National Congress of American Indians in Washington D.C. and as an associate attorney for the Denver Earthjustice office. He received an undergraduate in geology from Rice University, a master’s in geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and his JD from the University of Colorado.

The Sustainable Futures Speaker Series is cosponsored by the Schatz Energy Research Center, the Environment & Community graduate program, and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Humboldt State. For details on upcoming events or to request accessibility accommodations, email us at serc@humboldt.edu or call (707) 826-4345.

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Nick Goulette on September 28

Join us on Thursday, September 28 at 5:30 pm in Founders Hall 118, for a presentation by Nick Goulette on imagining and achieving the potential of community-based forestry in Northern California. As The Watershed Center’s executive director, Nick Goulette oversees programs focused on forestry, fire and fuels, watershed and fisheries, youth engagement, enterprise development, policy, and research.

Over the past thirteen years with the Watershed Center, Goulette has worked on a wide range of collaborative projects. He is the Chair of the Northern CA Prescribed Fire Council and a long-time member of the leadership team for the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition. He also helped establish the CA Forest Biomass Working Group and the CA Statewide Wood Energy Team, and worked with the design and launch of the national Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network.

Goulette was born and raised in Maine and received a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Vermont with a concentration in Community-Based Forestry. He now lives with his wife Naomi on a homestead in Weaverville, California.

The Sustainable Futures Speaker Series is cosponsored by the Schatz Energy Research Center, the Environment & Community graduate program, and the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Humboldt State. For details on upcoming events or to request accessibility accommodations, email us at serc@humboldt.edu or call (707) 826-4345.

PV module performance over time: assessing 26 years at the HSU Telonicher Marine Lab

In 1990, the Schatz Center installed 192 ARCO M75 photovoltaic (PV) modules at the HSU Telonicher Marine Lab in Trinidad, California, 150 m off the Pacific Ocean. Current voltage (IV) tests were performed on each module prior to the array’s construction in 1990, again in 2001 and 2010, and most recently in 2016 after the array was decommissioned.

Read our report, which will appear in the June 2017 Proceedings of the 44th IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference…

Sustainable Futures Speaker Series: Debbie Page-Dumroese on August 31

Join us on Thursday, August 31 at 5:30 pm in Founders Hall 118, for a presentation by visiting soil scientist Debbie Page-Dumroese on the use of biochar to sequester carbon and improve soil resilience. Biochar is a porous, high-carbon material derived from exposing biomass to temperatures above 500°C in a low-oxygen environment. The resultant “char” is typically used as a soil amendment to increase water-holding capacity and nutrient retention.

Page-Dumroese has been a Research Soil Scientist with the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station for over three decades. Her work focuses on long-term soil productivity after harvest operation, sustainable harvesting, wood decomposition, and biochar. For the last ten years, she has been investigating the potential to reduce slash pile burns and limit wildfire risks by using onsite biochar conversion technologies.

Visiting Speaker Debbie Page-Dumroese

The Sustainable Futures Speaker Series is cosponsored by the Schatz Energy Research Center and HSU’s Environment & Community graduate program. For details on upcoming events or to request accessibility accommodations, email us at serc@humboldt.edu or call (707) 826-4345.