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DER Systems Increase Energy Reliability for California Community Project

Community energy
(Credit: Pixabay)

Richmond, California, is getting distributed energy resource management systems as part of a community program to increase energy resiliency and reliability.

The platform is part of the Richmond Advanced Energy Community Project (AEC), which aims to improve energy use and carbon emissions in the highly industrial area that includes the largest refinery in the western US and major transportation hubs. The program, which is receiving $4.9 million in funding from the California Energy Commission, is helping with energy retrofits and establishing distributed energy resource (DER) sites across industrial, commercial, and residential settings.

The DERs will include renewable energy and storage, smart thermostats, HVAC systems, electric vehicle infrastructure, refrigeration, and other smart devices that will be combined into a virtual power plant (VPP). Energy provider MCE is operating the VPP and mPrest is providing its mDERMS platform for the project.

Richmond, which is also considered an underserved community, will get 20 commercial and industrial DER deployments as part of the project, in addition to plans for 100 residential sites. California is increasing efforts to grow community energy projects, and recently the State Assembly passed legislation to implement more community solar developments.

The goal of the advanced energy community is to increase grid reliability with solar, energy storage, and integrated DERs in alignment with local energy management plans. The VPP will also help with load reduction and demand management to help support power capacity and ease the pressure on the grid.

It will also, according to the program, help create models to further implement DERs and help users mitigate high demand times and costs. It also will help reduce the need for non-renewable energy sources and integrate electric vehicle charging stations into the VPP.

These types of projects also come as more pressure has been put on state governments to implement energy efficiency and demand management programs. A letter from 59 organizations was recently sent to 14 states encouraging them to use an increase in federal funds to increase these initiatives.

MCE will get the DERMS from mPrest for the project, implemented as a virtual top node, to integrate the DERs. The DERMS will use data from the California Independent Systems Operator and MCE to help with analysis and forecasting to increase the optimization of the systems.

Those involved with the program will also create an AEC resource center and toolkit that can help other California communities with the energy technologies and help implement similar projects throughout the state. Lancaster, California, is another community undertaking an AEC.

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