California Energy Commission Okays $10M for College and Airport Microgrids

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The California Energy Commission yesterday approved about $10 million in grants, one for a college microgrid in Sonoma County and the second for an airport microgrid in Humboldt County.

The commission vote is the final stage in a competitive process underway to distribute about $50 million in microgrid funds to various projects throughout the state.

In Wednesday’s vote, the commission allotted the Sonoma County Junior College District about $5 million for a microgrid that will use photovoltaic solar power to meet 40 percent of the electricity needs at Santa Rosa Junior College campus.

The college microgrid is expected to reduce peak load, optimize energy use, and provide support to the surrounding grid. Highly resilient, the system will allow the campus to provide emergency services during power outages.

The commission also approved $5 million for the Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation, which is developing a community-scale renewable energy microgrid at the Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport.

The airport microgrid will demonstrate the first multi-customer, front-of-the-meter microgrid with renewable energy owned by a community choice aggregation and the microgrid circuit owned by an investor-owned utility. It is also Humboldt County’s second microgrid; the remote region is also site of the much-cited Blue Lake Rancheria microgrid, managed via an advanced control system by Siemens.

The community choice aggregation, a government-run energy program, will participate in California’s wholesale power market. At the same time, the microgrid will provide low-carbon resilience to a commercial airport and U.S. Coast Guard Air Station, which are critical emergency facilities in Humboldt County.

The grants are funded through the commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge, which supports clean energy innovations, strategies, and applications that help the state meet its energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


  1. Great article

  2. Mandy Shapiro says:

    California Energy Commission is doing a lot of good changes fo California. They just recently pioneered the Solar Mandate which will save new homeowners money by installer solar panels on all new homes.

    The Interview with their Lead Project Manager is filled with great talking points


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