Ryan Craig APRIL 9, 2021
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
[photo credit Chris Kantos]