ENGIE Leads Microgrid Development for California Customers
Transition from traditional back-up power solutions to cleaner, healthier, and more intelligent systems is becoming easier and attainable for schools, cities and counties.
HOUSTON – ENGIE North America (ENGIE) today announced it has extended the scope of their microgrid offerings with their latest installation at the Santa Barbara Unified School District. As power outages and safety shutoffs are becoming the new normal in California, communities are under enormous pressure to adapt and mitigate their immediate effects. Communities must be able to continue critical operations even during a power outage. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, public safety power shutoffs (PSPS) have become commonplace. California communities experienced 4,547 outage days from PSPS events between October 2017 to October 2019.
ENGIE’s newest microgrid installation at the district includes 4.2 megawatts of solar across 14 district locations and six microgrids with 3.8 megawatt hours of battery energy storage for backup power and peak demand charge reduction. The project is expected to offset approximately 90 percent of the solar array sites’ energy use with renewable energy and the district is expected to save nearly eight million over the project’s lifetime, with additional $6.47 million of value-added benefits from resilience.
“The SBUSD solar microgrids will serve as a model for school districts and other entities anywhere, including how to finance them in a straightforward manner that minimizes upfront costs and risks to the District while also reducing the District’s electricity expenditure,” said Stefaan Sercu, managing director Energy Solutions Americas at ENGIE. “It’s also important to note that communities can now benefit from state and federal funding for projects like these.”
Public Entities in California need to be as proactive as ever. In August 2022, for example, California experienced an extreme heat wave with several PSPS events throughout the state. With new funding opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), customers would be eligible through direct pay for up to a 30 percent tax credit or even higher, if certain conditions are met, on the cost of solar and storage projects as well as microgrid controller equipment. This program will make projects like the SBUSD very financially attractive and continue to support the triple bottom line in every bucket– economic, social and environmental.
“The scope for this program is one of the first for a school district in California,” Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado. “This is a community that has been continually impacted by wildfires and subsequent power shutoffs, mudslides and other natural disasters. This project will be critical in the district’s efforts to preserve power where it can, as well as provide a fiscally responsible power insurance policy that will ultimately aid the entire community.”
After the 2017/18 Thomas Fire, Santa Barbara District staff began researching the feasibility of energy resiliency solutions to preserve critical operations during emergencies and power outages for the more than 15,000 students, faculty and staff. In December 2020, the Board of Directors unanimously approved this first of its kind, uniquely cost effective and scalable microgrid project owned, operated and maintained by ENGIE North America.
Through the project the District is now equipped to provide the community with access to continuation of uptime even during utility grid outages and operate in Island Mode at six District sites maintaining service for critical refrigeration systems, priority communications and emergency staging areas systems.
For more information on ENGIE’s microgrid solutions and case studies, please visit https://solutions.engie-na.com/building-a-sustainable-microgrid-santa-barbara-pr
About ENGIE North America
Based in Houston, Texas, ENGIE North America Inc. is a regional hub of ENGIE, a global leader in low-carbon energy and services. ENGIE (ENGI), is listed on the Paris and Brussels Stock Exchanges. Together with our 101,500 employees around the globe, our customers, partners and stakeholders, we are committed to accelerate the transition toward a carbon-neutral world, through reduced energy consumption and more environmentally friendly solutions. Inspired by our purpose (“raison d’être”), we reconcile economic performance with a positive impact on people and the planet, building on our key businesses (gas, renewable energy, services) to offer competitive solutions to our customers. In North America, ENGIE helps our clients achieve their energy efficiency, reliability, and ultimately, their sustainability goals, as we work together to shape a sustainable future. We accomplish this through: energy efficiency projects, providing energy supply (including renewables and natural gas), and the development, construction and operation of renewable energy assets (wind, solar, storage and more). For more information on ENGIE North America, please visit our LinkedIn page or Twitter feed, https://www.engie-na.com/ and https://www.engie.com.
ENGIE North America
Michael Clingan, Press Relations