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During an unexpected June 2018 grid power outage, the solar+storage system came on immediately and BHP staff was able to continue business operations as normal.

Boulder Housing Partners

Boulder, CO

While flash flooding had been commonplace in Boulder County, it was a 100-year flooding event in September 2013 that catalyzed interest in resilient energy infrastructure. After four days of nonstop flooding, the City of Boulder was confronted with widespread power outages, critical infrastructure damage, and overwhelmed community services providers. It was clear that, moving forward, resilient backup power would be instrumental to delivering critical community services in the event of the next emergency or grid outage. Over a three-year period, the City of Boulder partnered with Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) to develop and install a resilient energy system that could effectively power critical community services for affordable housing community residents in the event of an outage.

In addition to being a leading affordable housing developer and the housing authority for the City of Boulder, BHP also provides command post services to over 3,000 low income residents during emergencies. The solar+storage installed allows BHP’s North Boulder headquarters to remain open and operational during a power outage. Working with Independent Power Systems and GRID Alternatives, BHP installed a solar PV array, solar battery storage, two electric vehicle (EV) chargers, a small gas generator, and a smart control system. The natural gas generator will replenish the batteries in instances of limited solar availability and the two 16-amp EV charging stations will ensure emergency electric transportation when the grid is down.

In the event of a power outage, an automatic transfer switch allows the system to operate independent of the grid and continue power to facility’s critical loads, including: servers, outlets, heating, phones, wi‐fi, and EV charging. This was the case during an unexpected June 2018 outage. When grid power failed, the solar+storage system came on immediately and BHP staff was able to continue business operations as normal.

The total cost of the solar+storage system, including solar PV, battery storage, and smart control systems, was $143,476. Savings from avoided outages and electric costs totaled $7,440 and resulted in a simple payback of just over 19 years. The project was funded by BHP and the Department of Energy’s Resilient Energy Delivery Infrastructure initiative, which funded development of smart grid technologies in local governments that have experienced a recent major disaster. The City of Boulder was also awarded a Resilient Power Technical Assistance Fund grant from Clean Energy Group to conduct technical and financial feasibility analysis on several properties.

Installation Details

Year Commissioned: 2018

Services Provided: Backup power, EV charging, Demand management

Supported Infrastructure: Affordable housing headquarters

Solar: 20.67kW

Storage: 18kW/45kWh lead acid batteries

Project Partners: City of Boulder, Boulder Housing Partners, GRID Alternatives, Independent Power Systems, Clean Energy Group, U.S. Department of Energy

Resilient Power Project Case Study – Boulder Housing Partners (Clean Energy Group, November 2018). This case study includes technical and financial details, as well as lessons learned over the course of the project. Read it here.