California city eyes FEMA grant for solar+storage projects


Nonprofit group Clean Coalition won a contract to manage design work for solar microgrids at five facilities owned by the city of Camarillo, California, a city of around 65,000 northwest of Los Angeles.

The projects would total about 3.8 MW and are intended to achieve zero net energy over their 30-year life and reduce the cumulative carbon footprint of the five sites by around 88%.

The city is considering two options to fund the projects:

First, it is pursuing a nationwide grant opportunity from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The grant money is for up to $50 million to support projects such as microgrids that reduce risks from natural disasters.

Second, the city is weighing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a third-party developer that would build, own, and operate the microgrids. The developer would be chosen through a request for proposals (RFP) process.

The microgrids are expected to yield utility bill savings at all five city facilities. They also are expected to bring the city resilience benefits, which the Clean Coalition said it can quantify using a value-of-resilience methodology.

The city earlier approved moving forward on the project, after the Clean Coalition wrote a feasibility study along with TRC Cos., a subcontractor. The recommended hybrid approach carried a price tag of around $16.3 million. It would incorporate solar, storage, and a diesel generator. The microgrids would keep four of the five sites online during multi-day outages, with diesel generators reserved for use only during extended outages.

The largest solar deployment would be around 2.6 MW at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

A pure solar microgrid, without diesel, was recommended for a public library, which does not need to remain online during an extended outage.

Clean Coalition will now begin the design work for the microgrids, with TRC again acting as a subcontractor. Designs are expected to be completed by the end of July.

The Clean Coalition is a nonprofit that works with utilities, community choice aggregation agencies, municipalities, and other entities on opportunities for local renewables and other distributed energy resources.

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