1. What is Resilient Palisades?
Resilient Palisades is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded by residents of Pacific Palisades in 2019 and is run solely by volunteers, the vast majority of whom currently live in Pacific Palisades. Our mission is to engage with Palisadians, local businesses, schools, and other organizations on projects that help our community develop a more sustainable way of living to fight climate change and ecological degradation.
2. What is the Pali Microgrid initiative in a nutshell?
Resilient Palisades’ Clean Energy Resilience Team is spearheading the two-phase Pali Microgrid initiative. The Pali Microgrid will be one of the first of its kind in California and will improve our community’s energy resilience, save participants’ money on energy bills, and reduce our impact on the environment.
In the first phase, we are encouraging residents and local businesses, schools, and other institutions to create their own so-called islandable “nanogrid” by installing solar panels and battery storage, with the ultimate goal of interconnecting these nanogrids in the second phase into one or more community-wide microgrids. We have issued Requests for Proposals to vendors of solar panels, battery storage, and control systems, and negotiated attractive group pricing from these vendors while ensuring that the equipment will be compatible with the Pali Microgrid.
In the second phase, each of the nanogrids will be interconnected into what will become the Pali Microgrid.
3. Why is a microgrid beneficial to the community?
A microgrid can provide clean and reliable energy and can island itself from the main grid as needed, enabling participants to share stored power during an outage of the main grid. Microgrids enable communities to be more resilient, sustainable, and self-reliant. Microgrids also can help improve the operation and reliability of the local utility (here, LADWP) by reducing demand on the grid and thereby reducing the chance of brownouts and blackouts in the community. Adding solar panels and home battery storage to your home or business can also increase your property value.
4. Are any for-profit entities behind the Pali Microgrid initiative?
Our Clean Energy Resilience Team, which is spearheading the Pali Microgrid initiative, has numerous members, all of whom currently reside in the Palisades or are former residents. The owners of Suntricity, Inc., a solar company founded in Pacific Palisades by former residents, participated in the project’s formative period, but not since the start of the RFP process. Resilient Palisades has no financial connection to Suntricity.
5. What support do you have so far for the Pali Microgrid?
We have already received positive feedback on the Pali Microgrid initiative from many 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 Clean Coalition, and Brad Heavner of the California Solar & Storage Association.
Importantly, we have also established a working relationship with key officials at LADWP, who have expressed initial interest and support for the initiative.
6. Does Resilient Palisades plan to collaborate with other communities to establish additional community microgrids?
We hope that the Pali Microgrid will serve as a model for a successful community microgrid. Resilient Palisades has already received an inquiry from the office of Representative Barragan who represents Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington, asking to be kept apprised of our progress.
7. I live in a shaded area and haven’t installed solar panels because I don’t expect them to generate significant energy. Can I still participate in the Pali Microgrid?
Yes. It is technically possible to design a microgrid that will allow for sharing of solar generation and battery storage with all participating homeowners, regardless of where those resources are located. The final design of the microgrid will depend on the preferences of the community and how we decide to share resources.
8. My roof is very old and I don’t think it would support solar panels. Can I still participate in the Pali Microgrid?
Even older roofs may be able to support solar panels. It depends more on the condition of the roof than its age. However, even if you’re not able to install panels on your roof, see answer to #7 above.
9. Will residents of townhomes or multifamily buildings be able to participate?
Yes, there will be a way that people who live in various types of living situations to participate. The level of involvement will depend on the willingness of the building owner or Homeowner’s Association to participate.
10. Are there any disadvantages to a microgrid?
It costs money to store energy and operate a microgrid. Although participants in the microgrid will bear these costs, the costs will be mitigated and offset by reduced power bills and the potential to sell energy back to the LADWP grid. Rules and regulations for multi-customer microgrids also are evolving. Also, a successful microgrid requires collaboration among many stakeholders, including electric customers, the City of Los Angeles, and LADWP.
11. I already have solar or solar + battery. What additional benefit will I get from being part of a microgrid?
If you already have solar panels, but no storage, the Pali Microgrid initiative is a good opportunity to purchase storage and a control system at the best possible price as Resilient Palisades has negotiated grop pricing with installers. If you already have solar and storage, joining the Microgrid will increase resilience for your home and family in the event of electricity outages or natural disasters by providing greater access to stored power. Furthermore, the community microgrid will reduce the chance of an outage to begin with, which will benefit the community as a whole. Another benefit is that when everyone “pools” their energy and battery storage, the amount of total energy available to each individual home will be greater than if that home relied solely on its own solar panels and battery system, thereby increasing the resilience of our community.
12. Will we require a commitment from those homeowners who benefit from the group discount pricing to join the microgrid?
While we plan to demonstrate that there are substantial benefits to joining the microgrid, there will be no commitment required to join the microgrid if homeowners benefit from the group discount pricing for Palisadians who participate in Phase I (installing solar and/or battery storage).
13. How does a microgrid work exactly?
A Microgrid is a local electrical network that includes (a) one or more small “power plants” (i.e., homes or businesses with solar panels on their rooftops), (b) a means of storing electrical energy (i.e., batteries), and (c) a control system to distribute and monitor the energy.
In the event of a power outage, the microgrid can “island” itself, or disconnect, from the main electrical grid (or macrogrid) – in our case, the LADWP grid – and function autonomously. While islanded, the control system can distribute and supply stored energy to the homes and businesses that are part of the microgrid, enabling them to keep at least some electrical appliances (e.g., refrigerator/freezer, hot water, computer) running during an LADWP grid outage.
While the system is most efficient if the homes are located close to each other, technology exists to link homes together in a community microgrid even if a few buildings or homes do not participate. This technology is currently being demonstrated at the Oakland EcoBlock.
14. If I already have solar panels and/or home battery storage, will I be able to connect to the Pali Microgrid or will my equipment not be compatible?
We expect that most equipment will be compatible with the Pali Microgrid. If you installed panels or battery storage many years ago, you may need to make minor modifications to your system to make it compatible with the Pali Microgrid.
If you currently lease your solar system, you may be prevented by joining the microgrid under the terms of your contract. We plan to provide assistance to help evaluate if you can join.
15. Will the microgrid be AC-based or DC-based?
We are planning an AC microgrid.
16. Who will be monitoring/operating the control systems? Will the Pali Microgrid have to hire an operator?
Microgrid controllers come with a service contract whereby the controller company monitors the system and provides real-time information to the customers. There are several companies that do this, and we will put out an RFP closer to the beginning of phase 2. There is a recurring cost associated with this service.
17. How do we connect the microgrid together in phase 2? What will homes need to be able to connect to the microgrid?
This depends on your existing electrical panel and system components. Connecting to the microgrid may require some additional hardware and cloud-based software. However, much of the work will be done on LADWP’s side of your meter. All homes in the community are already connected via LADWP’s distribution system. The microgrid will use this existing distribution system in tandem with controller hardware installed at each home and a cloud-based software system to manage the flow of electricity.
18. How is this project being financed?
Homeowners and other property owners in the Palisades will individually invest to install solar panels, battery storage, and a control system. Financing options are available from selected installers.
19. How do I decide if it makes financial sense to invest in solar + batteries or the microgrid?
Installers proposals will provide a payback analysis based on your current LADWP bills. However, that’s simply the financial return. Increased resilience and climate benefits are hard to quantify.
20. What’s this I hear about a proposed law in California that will increase the cost of solar for homeowners?
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has proposed a new Net Energy Metering (NEM) tariff which will reduce incentives and effectively increase the cost of solar for homeowners. However, CPUC only governs investor-owned utilities. LADWP, which serves the Palisades, is a municipal utility and would need to change net metering on its own re-rating schedule, which will not happen for several years. As a result, the time for Palisadians to go solar is now.
21. LADP seems resistant to the widespread use of solar energy. Do you anticipate that LADWP will support the Pali Microgrid?
Yes. LADWP has a long-range goal of significantly expanding its reliance on clean energy resources as part of its 100% clean energy initiative. In 2016, 5% of LADWP’s power resources came from solar. LADWP’s goal is to get to 100% renewable energy by 2045. Resilient Palisades believes that the Pali Microgrid will be consistent with, and further, LADWP’s renewable energy goals, and that LADWP therefore will support the initiative.
Importantly, we have already established a working relationship with key officials at LADWP and expect to have an ongoing dialogue with them about the Pali Microgrid. LADWP officials appear to recognize that they will need to develop a framework for enabling microgrids and have stated they are excited to work with Resilient Palisades to develop the first microgrid in their service area. LADWP’s involvement in the development of the Pali Microgrid will be critical to our success.
Although a small fraction of homes and businesses in the Palisades currently have solar installed, we expect that solar panels will become increasingly more common over time. Solar panels are now required to be installed on all newly built single-family residences and multi-family residences up to three stories high, meaning new home builds in the Palisades will have solar installed.
22. Is there a way to expedite permitting for the installation of solar panels and home battery storage?
We have already established a working relationship with key officials at LADWP and expect to have an ongoing dialogue with them about the Pali Microgrid, including on the topic of permitting and connecting participating Pali Microgrid homes to the LADWP grid in an efficient and safe way. We will update our website with relevant permitting and interconnection information as LADWP makes it available to us.