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“The microgrid will enable us to provide emergency shelter for our community when they need it the most.” – Chemehuevi Vice-Chairman Glenn Lodge

Chemehuevi Community Center Microgrid

Havasu Lake, CA

The Chemehuevi Valley Reservation is located at the edge of the Mohave Desert. Triple-digit temperatures are common between April and September, which can cause electricity bills to spike as residents use air conditioners to stay cool. In addition to high electricity costs, residents also experience frequent power outages due to high winds and seasonal flooding. These blackouts are exacerbated by the remote rural location of the reservation, which is connected to the main grid by a single transmission line.

During power outages, residents often take shelter at the Chemehuevi Community Center. With the installation of a solar+storage microgrid in the fall of 2017, the community center is no longer reliant a diesel generator for critical power when outages do occur. Now, a 90-kilowatt solar carport system combined with a 25-kilowatt/125-kilowatt-hour flow battery supplies 85% of the community center’s energy usage and reduces the tribe’s monthly energy costs.

In addition to significant cost savings, the microgrid provides critical resiliency benefits for residents of the Chemehuevi Reservation. “The Community Center serves low-income families, and during power outages people rely on the facility to provide electricity and a place to sleep, shower, cook, and care for community members with medical needs,” said Chemehuevi Vice-Chairman Glenn Lodge. “The microgrid will enable us to provide emergency shelter for our community when they need it the most.”

The Chemehuevi Community Center Microgrid was supported through a $2.6 million grant from the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program. The project has been developed and managed by the University of California Riverside’s Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE). Researchers from SC-RISE will monitor and operate the battery system, and are using the project as a case study. “This project has the dual benefit of providing an environmentally friendly power system for the tribe while allowing researchers to study a system that could become a model for people in California and elsewhere,” said Alfredo Martinez-Morales, managing director of SC-RISE.

Installation Details

Year Commissioned: 2018

Services Provided: Peak reduction, load shifting, demand response, grid services

Supported Infrastructure: Community Center, which serves as the tribe’s emergency response center

Solar: 90 kW solar PV carport system

Storage: 25 kW/125 kWh flow battery

Project Partners: Chemehuevi Indian Tribe (project host); University of California Riverside (ongoing project management and research); California Energy Commission (grant funding); EnSync Energy (energy system integration); Grid Alternatives (installation and job training); Pacific Energy (electrical engineering and contracting services); Primus Power (energy storage system); SunPower (solar PV system).