- San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) will use $5 million in California Energy Commission (CEC) funding to expand its Borrego Springs microgrid and enable it to operate entirely on renewable energy, PV Magazine reports. The expansion will extend the reach of the microgrid to the 26 MW Borrego Solar facility.
- The expansion will reportedly make the Borrego Springs system one of the biggest U.S. microgrids able to operate entirely on renewables. It currently draws on local power generation, energy storage, and is grid-connected through automated switching that allows emergency disconnects for independent operation. The microgrid has proven capable of keeping the lights on during power outages.
- With the NRG Energy-owned solar array feeding its batteries, the microgrid will be able to supply renewable-generated electricity all day and night. The system can instantly switch back to onsite generation if the batteries run down and SDG&E plans new monitoring software to ensure seamless operations.
The SDG&E expansion is planned for mid-2016 and intended to eventually reach and serve the 2,800 Borrego Springs metered customers.
Duke Energy recently briefed Utility Dive on the progress of its 25-member “Coaliton of the Willing” which aims to streamline the integration of new technologies by building its own microgrid. A test facility is expected to be operational by Q3.
Smart Grid Technologies Director Jason Handley said Duke also wants to study microgrid ownership, something he sees as some years away, as a strategy to counter diminishing electricity sales. The undertaking will begin with studying interoperability.
Traditionally, third parties have owned and operated microgrids, so the Duke and SDG&E undertakings are precedent-setting. Handley sees utilities' participation as a natural extension of their familiarity with the operation of the larger grid but stressed that Duke’s intention is collaboration with other utilities and third party providers.