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Published on February 15, 2024
San Diego Pioneers Energy Resilience with Launch of Advanced Microgrids by SDG&ESource: San Diego Gas & Electric Company

In an ambitious stride towards energy innovation, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has launched four cutting-edge microgrids in San Diego, fortified with advanced safety technology and remote operation capabilities. SDG&E announced that the initiative is set to strengthen grid reliability and community resilience, especially during peak energy consumption times.

The microgrids in Clairemont, Tierra Santa, Paradise, and Boulevard are designed to cope with the energy demand spikes, particularly during balmy summers and the dusk hours when solar energy wanes and grid pressure increases. Despite occurring during power emergencies, these installations welcome reliable power to communities prone to frequent outages. Caroline Winn, SDG&E's CEO, underscored the vital role of such clean energy solutions in her statement obtained by SDG&E News, "Storage and microgrids are key to helping build a more resilient electric grid that can extend the availability of cleaner energy and help our communities better manage through grid emergencies like the extreme heat experienced in recent summers."

With a total storage capacity reaching around 39 megawatts (MW) and 180 megawatt-hours (MWh), the microgrids can function independently or in unison with the main grid, offering flexibility and support amid varying power needs. The capacity to remotely monitor and manage these systems is not only a step ahead in energy storage but also enhances the speed and efficiency of response to grid events and optimizes energy sustainability and reliability.

Nora Vargas, a persistent advocate for environmental justice and Chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors stressed the necessity of equitable access to such advancements. During a power emergency, she remarked, "For communities like mine that often experience outages, we welcome infrastructure that will help keep our lights on and our refrigerators running during difficult times," Vargas told SDG&E News. This focus on equity paves the way for vital institutions such as schools and medical centers to maintain essential operations during crises.

The California Public Utilities Commission, recognizing the pressing need to address California's power challenges, gave the green light to the projects in December 2021. The innovative energy systems are part of California's response to Governor Newsom's State Emergency Proclamation from the summer of 2021, which urged the bolstering of the state's power infrastructure against the backdrop of increasingly severe weather events related to climate change. Crucially, these microgrids will also be integrated into the California energy market, allowing the state to manage resource dispatching in an effort to balance the energy supply and demand across California.

Critical facilities' energy resilience is particularly emphasized, with the newly operational microgrids designed to support fire stations, schools, and other community support structures. For instance, the Clairemont site provides backup to facilities, including the Balboa Branch Library and multiple local schools. At the same time, the Boulevard microgrid services emergency response units such as fire stations and medical centers. Each site contributes to the strategic network of microgrids created to ensure that these pockets of locally generated power can help keep the lights on and community services running when the grid is under strain.