Bioenergy facility to install microgrid through California grant

By California Energy Commission | July 20, 2018

The California Energy Commission awarded grants July 11 to demonstrate how a microgrid can keep a bioenergy plant online and to study how the 21st century grid can help low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Rialto Bioenergy Facility LLC received $5 million to install a microgrid at the Rialto Bioenergy Facility in Rialto. The facility converts organic waste to renewable electricity and fertilizer.

Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems that can provide and manage power independent of the larger electric grid. Many use solar energy to generate power, but the Rialto facility will use energy from food waste and sewage sludge. During critical situations, the microgrid will be able to power the facility for up to three days if its feedstock supply is interrupted.

The Energy Commission also awarded $1 million to the University of California, Los Angeles for a study examining clean energy barriers in the Avocado Heights community in Los Angeles County. The study will help create a pathway for effectively integrating renewable energy generation, energy storage, and energy efficiency technologies in existing residential buildings in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Both grants were through the Electric Program Investment Charge program, which funds clean energy innovations, strategies, and applications that help the state meet its energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

The Energy Commission also approved requests from Alameda County and the city of Chula Vista to adopt enhanced energy efficiency standards for buildings in their jurisdictions. Local authorities are required to apply to the Energy Commission if their proposed standards are more stringent than state standards. Local standards must be cost effective and buildings must be designed so they consume no more energy than allowed under the state’s standards.

Alameda County’s ordinance exceeds the state’s 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards by requiring solar photovoltaics to be installed on all new single-family and low-rise multifamily construction. Those requirements are not in the 2016 state energy standards, but are in the recently-approved 2019 energy standards that take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Chula Vista’s ordinance reduces the maximum power allowances for outdoor lighting for nonresidential buildings by up to 81 percent from the maximum allowed wattages in the 2016 energy standards.

More details are available in the business meeting agenda.