Mitchell Mylius and Drea Chavez
SPECIAL TO THE EXPRESS
1.5 million dollars has landed on Las Positas College’s lap. And it will be used to save the college more money.
Thanks to the grant from California Energy Commission (CEC), LPC will be the proud owner of a microgrid. This new system, which allows the school guaranteed power and independence from utility companies, is predicted to save the college thousands of dollars annually in the future.
“Energy is an important cost for educational institutions and historically the most difficult to measure and control,” LPC President Barry Russell said. “This project will allow us to develop a Microgrid Blueprint model that can be used by other colleges.”
LPC already produces 55 percent of its own electricity with the array of solar panels and ice-based thermal storage system on campus. However, the current power grid in place can’t handle the amount of power being consumed by the school while trying to create enough power through these resources. Thus resulting in higher PG&E bills.
This is where the project, which will be collaborated by Growing Energy Labs Inc. (Geli) and Imergy Power Systems, comes in.
Imergy will be installing its EPS30 vanadium redox flow batteries with a total capacity of 250 kW per hour.
“These batteries are essentially going to be charged up during the day and drained at night.” Said Doug Horner, Director of Facilities of the Chabot-Las Positas College District.
The stored energy via these batter- ies will then be managed by the Geli Operating System, according to Imergy Power Vice President Herve Mazzocco.
“It’s like the Windows of energy management,” Mozzocco said. “It’s an environment where you optimize how energy is used. It will monitor load sources, energy storage and optimize dispatch to reduce (peak) energy costs and demand charges.”
Once the microgrid is in place, the district will save approximately $75 thousand yearly.
In 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) started the California Solar Initiative, which offers rebates, tax credits, grants and information on installing solar electrical and solar thermal systems. The initiative is also a part of the CEC’s goal to push more and more energy consumers towards renewable sources like wind and solar.
Despite the money that this project will be saving, the leaders of the cam- pus seem to be more concerned with the advancement of microgrid technology, becoming energy independent and shrinking LPC’s carbon footprint.
“We want to lower emissions and, most of all, be energy independent,” Horner said. “The goal is produce as much energy as we consume.”
According to the United Nations report from the Intergovernmental Panel, consisting of 1300 of the world’s super star scientists, human activity has contributed highly to the Earth’s rising temperature over the last 250 years. The report also noted that car- bon is the most significant human- produced greenhouse gas.
Not only is LPC doing its share to reduce greenhouse emissions and taking part in a study for other entities to use as a model for microgrids, it’s also investing in jobs for the future.
“Microgrids will become one of the primary ways consumers and businesses around the world get their electricity in the future,” Imergy Power Systems CEO Bill Watkins said. “Projects like this are setting a template for our industry.”