Numerous SERC staff are busy working on the RePower Humboldt with Community Scale Renewable Energy project. Most of our recent efforts have been focused on the design of the biomass gasification to fuel cell project at the Blue Lake Rancheria. We also met recently with Redwood Coast Energy Authority staff at the Blue Lake Elementary School to scope out the installation and testing of a mini-split heat pump system. The RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan indicated that use of heat pumps could be a cost effective way to utilize local renewable energy resources to meet heating demands while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, heat pump performance can vary significantly in different climates, so the strategic plan recommended conducting a heat pump pilot study to examine performance characteristics in the Humboldt climate. Blue Lake Elementary will receive one or two heat pump systems to be installed in individual classrooms. These systems will be equipped with monitoring instruments. At the same time, we will measure the energy consumption and performance of the small natural gas furnaces that currently provide heat to these classrooms. This will allow us to evaluate the energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and greenhouse gas impacts associated with the heat pump systems compared to conventional heating systems. This information can then be used to inform decisions about the potential future installation of heat pump systems throughout the county.
Last spring, SERC worked with the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) to release the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan. The plan lays out long-term strategies and near-term implementation measures that can lead Humboldt toward a more sustainable energy future. Less than a year from the completion of that planning effort, we’re pleased to report that a substantial number of the implementation measures are already under way, and SERC is actively involved in several of them.
- There are multiple efforts to utilize forest-based biomass resources in an ecologically sensitive and cost-effective manner.
- The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a study to revisit the idea of a pilot-scale wave energy facility offshore from Humboldt Bay.
- Locals and developers are still interested in harnessing wind and run-of-the-river hydro resources throughout the region.
- SERC is working with RCEA to complete a regional plan to support the adoption of electric vehicles.
- On the energy demand side of the equation, the efficiency programs at RCEA continue to grow and reach more local residents, businesses and schools.
- RCEA will soon implement a heat pump pilot study in the City of Blue Lake.
While not exhaustive, this list makes it clear that our local community is serious about pursuing the vision articulated in the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan, and that we already have the momentum to make substantial progress over the coming years!