RCEA’s Microgrid Project Wins Reliability and Resilience Awards
Nancy Stephenson, Redwood Coast Energy Authority
The Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA) received two distinguished awards last week for the collaborative Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid (RCAM) project. The California Community Choice Association (CalCCA) recognized RCEA with a first place Impact Award in the Reliability category at their annual conference in San Diego. RCEA also won the “California Microgrid” award during Microgrid Knowledge’s 2023 Greater Good Award ceremony in Anaheim.
RCEA staff were among 600 attendees at the CalCCA Conference in San Diego from May 16 to 19. Staff both led and participated in panel discussions and attended workshops with other Community Choice Aggregators.
“Community choice energy providers across California are developing and implementing exciting projects and programs and CalCCA is central in sharing success stories so effective strategies can be replicated up and down the state,” said RCEA Executive Director Matthew Marshall. “It is an honor to receive this recognition and we look forward to building on what we’ve learned through this project to deploy future microgrids in our region.”
RCEA’s Infrastructure Planning and Operations Director Dana Boudreau attended the Microgrid Knowledge Conference in Anaheim with David Carter from Schatz Energy Research Center, a key project partner. “RCEA is honored to accept this award on behalf of the Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid project team. We’re grateful for the opportunity to bring new knowledge, technology, and skills into the industry and to accelerate the transition toward clean, resilient and sustainable energy for communities around the world,” said Boudreau. The award-winning project team continues to seek and develop innovative new technologies to maintain and improve the RCAM system and identify opportunities for additional microgrids.
Since its launch in June 2022, RCAM’s solar powered battery storage system repeatedly and seamlessly provided backup power to the U.S. Coast Guard Humboldt Bay Air Station, the California Redwood Coast – Humboldt County Airport, and the neighboring community during a long winter of power outages caused by severe weather and earthquakes.
Projects tackling adverse challenges are essential in rural areas like Humboldt County and community choice energy programs that keep energy dollars local are key to getting them built. The State of California, through the California Energy Commission, saw RCAM as a model project to be replicated across the state and joined community choice energy provider RCEA as a major project funder.
The RCAM microgrid project was made possible by a collaborative partnership with the Schatz Energy Research Center at Cal Poly Humboldt, the County of Humboldt, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Tesla, The Energy Authority, TRC, and Schweitzer Engineering Labs.
Established in 2003, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority is a local government joint powers agency whose members include the County of Humboldt, the seven cities within the county, the Yurok Tribe and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. The Energy Authority’s purpose is to develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives that reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and advance the use of clean, efficient, and renewable resources available in the region. For more info, visit redwoodenergy.org.
The California Community Choice Association supports community choice electricity providers, such as RCEA, in the legislature and at state regulatory agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission, California Energy Commission and California Air Resources Board. CalCCA is comprised of 24 of the 25 Community Choice Aggregators currently operating in the state. Its mission focuses on advocating for its Community Choice Aggregators by supporting legislative and regulatory objectives, and aiding long-term goals of education, sustainability, and technical guidance.
Microgrids can function and support communities during threats and outages to the traditional electricity grid, allowing communities to be resilient against unexpected forces such as earthquakes and severe weather. Microgrids can disconnect or “island” from the main grid and produce electricity independently during outages. During the major 6.4 magnitude earthquake in December 2022, the microgrid remained autonomously energized for nearly 15 hours.