California Community Microgrids


By Steve Thrall

Director of Development – North America, eleXsys Energy. Passionate and driven renewables advocate who is committed to leading the transition to a clean energy world. After first working with eleXsys Energy in their Australia office, Steve has returned to his home country of Canada as Director of Development – North America to lead eleXsys' global expansion into the North America energy market using their game-changing technology, eleXsys®.

22 July 2020

To assist with transitioning to a clean energy world as well as combatting the devastating impacts of PSPS events and California wildfires, eleXsys Energy has partnered with California not-for-profit, the Clean Coalition to help deliver the Goleta Load Pocket Community Microgrid. The Goleta Load Pocket is a disaster-prone and transmission vulnerable 70-mile stretch of Southern California coastline. It provides the perfect opportunity for a comprehensive Community Microgrid that will bring the area an unparalleled trifecta of economic, environmental, and resilience benefits.

But there’s a problem; despite the significant benefit microgrids can provide to California, several barriers exist that prevent them from maximizing their economic, environmental and resilience benefits.

These include the rules governing Net Energy Metering (NEM) which artificially limits the size of microgrids, as well as limited market mechanisms to fairly compensate rooftop solar+batteries, restricting the ability of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) to provide its full value to both customer and the community. Under NEM, the size of behind-the-meter (BTM) solar+battery systems are limited as the utility has long argued that DER can destabilize the grid. Furthermore, there is a clear divide limiting BTM resources from participating in grid services markets, such as frequency control, ancillary services, and wholesale energy arbitrage. As a result, microgrids being installed in California today may be undersized by as much as 4 times representing significant lost opportunities to maximize the amount of clean DER to power West Coast communities.

Change is occurring as organizations such as the Clean Coalition generate debate and innovative solutions while leading the policy reforms necessary to achieve California’s target of 100% Clean Energy by 2045. To date, the Clean Coalition has been instrumental in influencing policy reforms related to inequitable Transmission Access Charges, arduous interconnection processes, and most recently, allowing DER participation in wholesale electricity markets. In addition to these policy innovations technologies like those developed by eleXsys Energy (eleXsys®) are critical to enabling the proliferation of DER across California and the rest of North America.

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