California Offers Up to $26.5 Million in Microgrid Grants

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The California Energy Commission is offering up to $26.5 million for microgrid grants, in a request for proposals issued July 3.

The RFP seeks microgrid projects that demonstrate ways to reduce carbon emissions and increase use of renewable energy and electric vehicles.

“California’s electric grid must become more resilient and adaptable to climate change impacts such as increased fires, severe storms, and heat waves,” says the RFP. “Microgrids advance this goal because they are able to disconnect from the grid and provide islands of stable, independent power for critical facilities such as hospitals.”

The commission is allotting $20.5 million to low-carbon microgrids at critical facilities (police, fueling stations, supermarkets, etc.) or those that include renewable energy. The commission will offer a minimum of $500,000 and maximum of $5 million for each of these demonstration projects.

The RFP also makes available $6 million in microgrid grants for projects that demonstrate smart grid and bi-directional vehicle charging. These projects can receive a minimum $500,000 and a maximum $2 million.

Microgrid grant applicants must provide at least 25 percent in matching funds, and will receive additional points in scoring if they offer more.

Interested in microgrids? Learn more about the microgrid state of play by downloading our free special report,  Think Microgrid.

The commission will judge applications in a two-stage process. First, they will be screened to see if they meet threshold requirements, such as financial capability. Second, they will be scored under a system that awards points based on a variety of criteria, among them technical achievement, impact on ratepayers, developer qualifications, budget, and labor value.

The projects must be located within the service territory of a California investor-owned utility.

The commission hopes to achieve several goals through the grant program. For example, it seeks projects that can provide resource, technical and economic insight and identify barriers to microgrid development. The commission also hopes to better understand microgrid configurations that offer ratepayers highest value, identify and serve critical loads and create models that can be replicated.

Preference also will go to microgrids in areas with power supply issues caused by lack of transmission or  power plant retirements  (such as the closing of San Onofre Nuclear Generating  Station).

The commission will hold a pre-application workshop July 29. Written questions about the microgrid grants are due August 1, and applications are due November 3. The commission expects to post microgrid grant winners January 11, 2015. Contracts will begin May 2015 and end March 31, 2018.

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The RFP (PON-14-301)  contact is: Gordon Kashiwagi, commission agreement officer, CEC, 1516 Ninth Street, MS-18 Sacramento, California 95814; (916) 654-5131;

The microgrid grant RFP is available here.

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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.