HUMBOLDT LAUNCHES MILESTONE MICROGRID
A coalition of energy-conscious companies and government bodies has developed California’s first 100% renewable multi-customer microgrid, a resilient alternative to getting electricity from power plants. The energy system is currently providing energy to Humboldt County’s Redwood Coast Airport (ACV) and the US Coast Guard Air Station.
A microgrid is a local network of electrical power sources that’s able to function without connection to a large-scale, centralized power grid. Getting electricity from a microgrid improves the sustainability and resilience of a community’s energy needs. Since microgrids supply energy to a much smaller number of buildings compared to a conventional power grid, the impacts of power outages are much smaller—and in some cases, unnoticeable.
This new microgrid in McKinleyville, CA, consists of a 2.2-megawatt solar panel array coupled with a bank of three Tesla Megapack storage batteries. During typical blue-sky conditions, this system generates clean, renewable energy for ACV and the Coast Guard Air Station, and stores unused power in the battery bank to supply during the evenings or high-demand periods. When a power outage occurs, the microgrid acts as an island, seamlessly continuing to power its connected structures. The system also participates in California’s independent wholesale energy markets, setting a strong example for future developers in reliability, economic wisdom, and better utilization of solar energy.
“An important success of [the microgrid] was how we were able to work through the complex financial, technical, regulatory, business, and operational hurdles facing this project,” says Dana Boudreau, Director of Operations and Infrastructure at Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA). “This experience will serve us well as we continue to engage our community in building offshore wind energy, supporting more solar and storage capacity, and developing new community microgrids.”
The airport microgrid was developed by a first-of-its-kind partnership between a number of organizations great and small: RCEA, Schatz Energy Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, Pacific Gas & Electric, County of Humboldt, TRC Companies Inc., The Energy Authority, Tesla Inc., and Schweitzer Engineering Labs. The project was funded in part by a $5 million grant from California’s Electric Program Investment Charge and by a $6 million investment from RCEA.
“RCEA’s goal is to provide our customers with 100% carbon-free electricity by 2025, and 100% local carbon-free electricity by 2030. This project is a major milestone for our clean energy and resilience efforts.”
Source: RCEA Press Release, Oxford Languages
CA APPEALS COURT SAVES BEES
On 31 May 2022, a California District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of protecting bumble bees (among other insects) under the California Endangered Species Act. The following is adapted from a press release by Center for Food Safety.
In 2018, Center for Food Safety (CFS), Defenders of Wildlife, and Xerces Society petitioned the California Fish and Game Commission to list four species of native bumble bees—western bumble bee, Franklin’s bumble bee, Crotch’s bumble bee, and the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee—as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). As a result of the groups’ petition, the Commission voted to begin the listing process in 2019, but was sued by California agricultural groups shortly after its decision. CFS, Defenders of Wildlife, and Xerces Society intervened in the lawsuit in January 2020.
In November 2020, the Sacramento County Superior Court determined that the California Fish and Game Commission lacks authority to list the four threatened bumble bee species as candidate species under CESA. However, in February 2021 the groups, represented by Stanford Environmental Law Clinic, appealed this decision. The Commission also filed an appeal to challenge the court’s ruling.
In a ruling on 31 May 2022, California’s Third Appellate District reversed the judgment of the trial court, holding that the California Fish and Game Commission does indeed have the authority to protect any invertebrate as endangered or threatened under CESA.
“With one out of every three bites of food we eat coming from a crop pollinated by bees, this court decision is critical to protecting our food supply,” stated Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director of CFS. “The decision clarifies that insects such as bees qualify for protections under CESA, which are necessary to ensure that populations of endangered species can survive and thrive.”
Jenny Loda, Staff Attorney at CFS, said, “This is an important decision that makes clear that all invertebrates can be protected under the species-saving protections of CESA. And it affirms the role of the Fish and Game Commission in protecting imperiled insects like the four bumble bees at issue in this case…. [These bees] are the first insect species to gain protections under CESA.”
Center for Food Safety’s mission is to empower people, support farmers, and protect the earth from the harmful impacts of industrial agriculture. Through groundbreaking legal, scientific, and grassroots action, they protect and promote your right to safe food and the environment. Please join their more than one million members across the country at www.centerforfoodsafety.org.
Source: Press Release: Center for Food Safety