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Bringing Solar Microgrids to a disadvantaged community in East LA

Craig Lewis's picture
Executive Director Clean Coalition

Craig Lewis is Founder and Executive Director of the Clean Coalition. He has over 20 years of experience in the renewables, wireless, semiconductor, and banking industries. Previously VP of...

  • Member since 2018
  • 12 items added with 24,036 views
  • Dec 15, 2021
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The Clean Coalition has partnered with Los Angeles (LA) County to unleash Solar Microgrids and Community Microgrids that deliver unparalleled economic, environmental, and resilience benefits to communities, starting with disadvantaged communities.

As the first step in this collaboration, the Clean Coalition will perform Solar Microgrid feasibility studies for a hub of LA County critical community facilities (CCFs) that are clustered in the disadvantaged and unincorporated East LA community.

East LA hub of critical community facilities.

The Clean Coalition will begin by assessing the feasibility of Solar Microgrids that incorporate solar, storage, and load management solutions to deliver economic, environmental, and resilience benefits to the following three types of LA County CCFs in the East LA hub, along with an adjacent parking areas that support auxiliary emergency services:

  • Health Center
  • Civic Center
  • Library
Three East LA hub CCFs and adjacent parking areas in initial studies.

The associated assessments will evaluate solar siting opportunities, resilience requirements based on critical loads and energy storage sizing and siting, and economic expectations based on cash-purchase and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) financing options. Also, the Clean Coalition will analyze opportunities to reduce reliance on the grid during peak demand periods and will facilitate stakeholder discussions that include Southern California Edison (SCE), the serving utility; Clean Power Alliance (CPA), the serving Community Choice Aggregator (CCA); State of California policymakers; and community benefit organizations (CBOs) in the region.  Importantly, opportunities for encompassing the East LA Solar Microgrids into a state-of-the-art East LA Community Microgrid will be fully considered, with SCE being heavily encouraged to support its first Community Microgrid in this high-visibility location.

The East LA Solar Microgrids feasibility studies are intended to stage unparalleled community resilience by ensuring that the most vital CCF services are always available, including during grid outages of any duration. The use of existing diesel generators will be minimized or eliminated while economic, environmental, health, and safety benefits are maximized for everyone throughout the community.

Potentially, a Community Microgrid financed through a Resilient Energy Subscription (RES) will also be staged to extend solar-driven resilience benefits to additional facilities, including businesses and residences within the initial target grid area of a prospective East LA Community Microgrid. RES, a straightforward market mechanism to facilitate the financing and expansion of Community Microgrids, allows any facility within the footprint of a Community Microgrid to pay a simple, transparent fee on top of its normal electricity tariff for guaranteed daily delivery of locally generated renewable energy during grid outages — ensuring unparalleled energy resilience. The RES fee covers the cost of service of provisioning such energy resilience from a Community Microgrid.

The East LA hub is located within a disadvantaged community (DAC) that scores 89 in CalEnviroScreen 4.0:

CalEnvironScreen 4.0 results for the entire East LA hub. 

The Clean Coalition analyses will assume new EV Charging Infrastructure (EVCI) that is configured behind-the-meter (BTM) to meet LA County plans of Level-2 charging for at least 5% of all parking spots. The BTM configuration is required to ensure EV charging resilience for critical transportation needs during grid outages. Load management solutions, including controllable EVCI, will be identified to ensure that BTM EV charging can provide both economic and resilience benefits.

The Clean Coalition will utilize its value-of-resilience (VOR) methodology, which tiers loads into three categories: Tier 1 for critical loads, Tier 2 for priority loads, and Tier 3 for discretionary loads. The Clean Coalition’s methodology, called VOR123, is designed to ensure 100% resilience for Tier 1 loads (always served), high resilience for Tier 2 loads, and significant resilience for the remaining loads, which are Tier 3 and totally discretionary.

LA County’s ultimate goal is to implement Solar Microgrids and Community Microgrids throughout the County. As such, the Solar Microgrid feasibility studies for the East LA hub are intended to be translated into a Request for Proposals (RFP) that leads to robust Solar Microgrid implementations within the next two years. The East LA Solar Microgrids are intended to showcase Solar Microgrids that can be proliferated to CCFs throughout LA County and beyond.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 15, 2021

Seems like a compelling program to bring clean energy benefits to new areas/communities-- thanks for sharing!

Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Dec 15, 2021

Thanks for sharing a wise road map for this feasibility study. But, I am wondering about the three tiers of loads. Does that mean probable load shedding ? This will be a killing point.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 15, 2021

The same thought occurred to me, Dr. Khashab. 

"LA County’s ultimate goal is to implement Solar Microgrids and Community Microgrids throughout the County."

LA County's primary goal should be to build a test microgrid to see whether the added cost in hardware, maintenance, reliability, and an unnecessary CCA "middleman" won't be a larger burden on disadvantaged communities than simply hardening SCE's existing grid.

Rosana Francescato's picture
Rosana Francescato on Dec 15, 2021

Good question! We design our Solar Microgrids to be able to provide power to most loads most of the time; load shedding would only be needed during extended grid outages during days of low solar production. The tiers chart here explains how this works: https://clean-coalition.org/disaster-resilience/

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Dec 15, 2021

I would this it could provide lower electric  bills for residences and non profits in the area. It did not seem to address savings.  In Arizona I put in PPA Solar systems for free to non profits. I get the incentives and a payment for the power produced from the utility and the non profit churches and other groups get power for about half price. When the system is paid off in 7 to 8 years I give it to the non profit and they have a zero electric bill. I would think a micro GRID would pay off the same way. 

Rosana Francescato's picture
Rosana Francescato on Dec 15, 2021

That's great! And indeed, microgrids can provide significant savings. When the feasibility study is completed, we will have savings forecasts. Another project we worked on for the Santa Barbara Unified School District will save millions for the school district while providing them millions in valuable resilience benefits for free: https://clean-coalition.org/community-microgrids/goleta-load-pocket/santa-barbara-unified-school-district/

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