Concentric Power to Build 5-MW Microgrid for Potato Producer

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Concentric Power is building a 5-MW microgrid for a Tasteful Selections, a Southern California company that grows and packages potatoes.

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Courtesy of Concentric Power

The $12 million project combines 3.6 MW of cogeneration firm power with 120 KW of solar and a 1.25-MW/625-kWh lithium-ion battery setup.

Concentric Power’s microgrid controller will integrate with Tasteful Selections’ equipment automation platform to deliver active and predictive load management, the companies said March 26.

The microgrid controller uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to manage energy supply and demand to ensure the lowest cost source of energy is being used at any given time, according to Concentric Power.

The company will operate the microgrid with a cloud-based control and dispatch platform as well as a physical network operation center staffed by engineers and technicians.

“What we’re doing here is an industry-standard-setting microgrid design,” said Mike Delgado, Concentric Power vice president of engineering and services.

The project could be expanded to include additional renewables, such as solar and renewable natural gas. It is designed to be highly efficient by capturing and repurposing heat, optimizing engine efficiency and managing load.

The microgrid provides Tasteful Selections, based in Arvin, California, a pathway to having net zero carbon emissions, according to the companies.

Tasteful Selections will own the microgrid, while Concentric Power will design, build, operate and maintain the system. Concentric Power expects to bring the project online in the third quarter.

Drivers for microgrids in Ag sector

Tasteful Selections said it expects to save 40% on its power costs while avoiding operational interruptions caused by utility power outages and public safety power shutoffs. California’s utilities periodically institute rolling blackouts in an effort to prevent wildfires, a practice that has driven interest in microgrids across the state.

One of the drivers for microgrids in the agricultural sector is rising electric rates for farms, according to Brian Curtis, Concentric Power’s CEO. Electric rates for large agricultural operators increased 25% in the last 16 months to 20 cents/kWh, Curtis said during a Feb. 24 presentation hosted by Bakersfield College.

“Farming, Ag processing and supporting communities are at high risk of power outages and problems due to wildfire shutoffs and poor utility power quality at grid edge,” Curtis said.

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Meanwhile, as electric rates are climbing, the cost of solar, batteries, fuel and financing are falling, according to Curtis.

“Throughout California, we’re seeing how microgrids can be a game changer for Ag customers, and this project is another step in our journey towards changing the energy industry landscape in the state and beyond,” Curtis said about the Tasteful Selections project.

Concentric Power projects

Concentric Power has a background in developing agriculture-related microgrids. The company, for example, is building a $70 million, 35-MW microgrid for the Gonzales Agricultural Industrial Business Park in Salinas Valley, California. The project includes a mix of 14.5 MW of solar, 10-MW/27.5-MWh of battery energy storage and 10 MW of flexible thermal generation, which will be managed by the company’s advanced microgrid controller.

With offices in Salinas and Campbell, California, and a new one about to be added in Bakersfield, California, Concentric Power has about 6 projects for a total of 60 MW that are operational, in construction or breaking ground in 2021.
“We see significant tail winds based on high customer demand for resilient, low cost, clean power as well as dropping equipment costs, favorable regulatory shifts and increasing federal incentives with the new administration. We are proactively ramping up to meet the demand,” said Amy Tomlinson director, project development, at Concentric Power.

Interested in microgrids for commercial and industrial facilities? Learn more at Microgrid 2021: The World Awakens to Microgrids. Participation is free for those who register in advance. Space is limited on the virtual platform, so we encourage you to register now.

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