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Jail Gets Microgrid Powered by Wind, Solar, Fuel Cell

The Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, Calif., recently teamed up with Chevron Energy Solutions to create its own microgrid, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

The 3,000-inmate penitentiary uses about as much electricity as a small town, and has an annual utility bill around the $3 million mark, the paper reports. The new microgrid is powered by solar panels (pictured), wind turbines, a fuel cell and a giant battery pack. It allows the jail to cut itself off the main grid during a blackout.

The system also allows the jail to cut its utility bills by charging the battery pack using off-peak rate electricity from the main grid.

The project was funded by an $11 million federal grant and is a demonstration of how other large facilities such as military bases, colleges and hospitals could also reduce their reliance on the grid or even power themselves, the paper reports.

A report out last year suggested that the total installed generation capacity for campus microgrids will increase by 164 percent between 2011 and 2017. Capacity will rise from 620 MW to 1.6 GW in that time period, according to the Pike Research report.

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