Early look at Camarillo, Calif.’s hybrid solar microgrids at five critical community facilities

Last week, the Camarillo City Council in California awarded the Clean Coalition a contract to manage design work for Hybrid Solar Microgrids at five city facilities: City Hall, Police Station, Camarillo Library, Wastewater Treatment Plant, and Corporation Yard. The projects are designed to achieve zero net energy over their anticipated 30-year life and will reduce the cumulative carbon footprint of the five sites by approximately 88 percent. The City previously approved moving forward on the Hybrid Solar Microgrids in November 2020.

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The Solar & Storage Microgrid Feasibility Study found that the most feasible and economic solutions would be hybrid systems that incorporate solar, storage and a diesel generator and at the City Hall, Corporation Yard, Police Station, and Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Hybrid Solar Microgrids will keep those four sites online during multi-day outages, with diesel generators reserved for use only when needed during extended outages. A pure Solar Microgrid, without any diesel, was recommended for the fifth site, the Camarillo Public Library, which does not need to be kept online during an extended power outage but can benefit from solar+storage backup, as available.

The next phase of this project involves the Clean Coalition beginning the design work for the Hybrid Solar Microgrids, with TRC again assisting as a subcontractor. Designs are expected to be completed by the end of July 2021.

The City is considering two major options for funding the Hybrid Solar Microgrids.

  • One option is grant funding. The City is pursuing a nationwide grant opportunity from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of up to $50 million per applicant for projects such as microgrids that mitigate risks from natural disasters.
  • Another option for the City is to enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a third-party developer who would build, own, and operate the Hybrid Solar Microgrids. The developer would be selected via a request for proposals (RFP) process.

The microgrids are designed to yield utility bill savings at all five facilities. In addition to bill savings, the microgrids will bring the City significant resilience benefits, which the Clean Coalition can quantify using the organization’s straightforward value-of-resilience methodology, VOR123.

Recent power outages caused by severe weather across the country have highlighted the need for resilience, a key benefit of Solar Microgrids — which also bring communities significant economic and environmental benefits.

“This Hybrid Solar Microgrid project is an excellent example of how the City of Camarillo continues to pursue sustainable efforts that are cost effective, aligning with the City Council Goals & Objectives for Environment/Resource Management,” said Greg Ramirez, Camarillo City Manager. “We are excited to be working with the Clean Coalition to take the next step on these innovative projects.”

“By voting to move forward with designs for these hybrid systems, the City of Camarillo has continued to demonstrate significant leadership,” said Frank Wasko, Managing Director of the Clean Coalition. “The Hybrid Solar Microgrids will bring the City unparalleled economic, environmental, and resilience benefits.”

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