Introducing the Pali Microgrid

 Ryan Craig  APRIL 9, 2021

For most Palisadians, blackouts are a pain. They mean darkness, resetting clocks, and perhaps losing perishable food. But for others, blackouts are dangerous. Some of our most vulnerable neighbors require electricity for disabilities or medical devices, and blackouts put their health and well-being at risk.

 

Too often, LADWP is not able to meet the electricity needs of our community. Several years ago, the PPCC estimated that power outages in the Palisades are on average 3-4x greater than other areas of the City. In a recent RFP, LADWP indicated a need to provide additional distributed energy resource (DER) capacity to the Palisades, in part due to overloaded circuits and the inability to build a new distributing station in our community.

 

One obvious answer to the power problems in our sun-drenched community is a community microgrid. Community microgrids are one of the keys to the cleaner and more efficient electrical infrastructure that will transform America’s energy grid over the next decade. Community microgrids consist of connected “islands” of households, businesses, schools, and congregations with solar panels to produce electricity, and batteries to store it. In addition, each island also has a control system that communicates when it should be storing, when it should be selling power back to the grid, and when it should be releasing power to the microgrid. 

 

It’s this last option that has the potential to dramatically improve our resilience. Imagine thousands of Palisadian homes and businesses with solar panels and the ability to store tens of thousands of kilowatt hours of power. In the event of a blackout or natural disaster, a community microgrid could keep the power on for all homeowners for an extended period of time. During the recent Texas blackout, one microgrid provider was able to keep power up and running at 200 microgrids across the state. 130 of these supplied electricity back to the grid, while 70 helped facilities remain open to provide food, prescription drugs, and gas.

 

Community microgrids also have two other important benefits. First, by making solar energy more reliable, they increase deployment of solar panels, which reduces carbon emissions. Second, participants save money on electricity. Following installation of solar + storage, many households are successful in shrinking their electric bills by 50% or more.

 

As a result, Resilient Palisades is proud to announce an important new initiative: the Pali Microgrid. If we’re successful, the Pali Microgrid will be one of the first of its kind in California and the country.

 

The Pali Microgrid will follow a two-phase approach. The first phase consists of installing solar + storage islands at thousands of homes, businesses, schools, and congregations throughout the Palisades. The second phase consists of joining these islands into a community microgrid in close coordination with LADWP.

 

So far, Resilient Palisades has received positive feedback for this approach from leaders in our community including Councilmember Mike Bonin, State Senator Henry Stern, and experts in the field of community microgrids such as Dan Kammen and the UC Berkeley EcoBlock team, Richard Brown of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Craig Lewis of the Clean Coalition, and Brad Heavner of the California Solar & Storage Association. We are also starting discussions with LADWP about what will be required to complete Phase II and flip the switch on the Pali Microgrid.

 

As a first step, we’re asking every Palisadian household and business to complete a survey located here. Survey data will be utilized to obtain volume discount pricing from vendors of solar, storage, and control systems for phase I. By fall, we plan to be actively signing up hundreds, and hopefully thousands of Palisadian households and businesses for Phase I.

 

Please complete the online survey to indicate your interest in participating in the Pali Microgrid, and make sure your friends and neighbors do the same. Our success depends on the input of ever Palisadian.

 

If you have any questions about the Pali Microgrid, please contact ryan@resilientpalisades.org.

 

[photo credit Chris Kantos]

 

6 Comments

  • Tom says:

    I think the major problem with our local power grid is increased demand. An electric car, a good thing, doubles the electricity demand of a household. There are several Teslas on my block along. Increases of installed air conditioning with all the new re-developed homes. I see many of the new houses with two chillers mounted on the roof. This is an unbelievable eyesore. My Neighbor did a fantastic job hiding his chillers, but was shocked at the cost of running them. Small 1000 sqr ft houses are being bulldozed in favor of 5 bdrm t bath houses. There are many more swimming pools being built. A while ago I looked into natural gas fuel cells. The one I looked at extracted 90% of the energy from the fuel. Virtually every other source of energy is only 20% efficient. Solar is great, but intermittent and is great for offsetting resource usage when active. Batteries are great but limited in capacity. Large battery installations have their own risks. Look and the old laptop fires, Tesla fires, etc. I looked at one of the articles on heat pumps. They are actually not that efficient in a mild climate like the Palisades. They would be more suitable in areas like the San Fernando valley where the temperatures get colder and much hotter in the summer.

  • Jack says:

    These proposals would be more appealing if they were accompanied by a frank analysis of upfront costs. The statement about residents saving 50% or more on their electric bills isn’t much of a motivator for us. Our monthly electric bills average $110-120 a month. So, saving fifty bucks or so a month would put our investment payback somewhere around half a century after our deaths? That’s a bit flip, but I don’t see any way these solar setups make sense for us seniors in the community.

  • Ira Erenberg says:

    For those of us who are already up and running with our own solar system and battery storage, will there be way to participate?—especially without incurring a major expense.

  • Hedy Ciani says:

    I love to see if it can be done in my roof

  • Dale's AC says:

    Such a good blog. I think the major problem with our local power grid is increased demand. An electric car, a good thing, doubles the electricity demand of a household.

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