Military microgrids to the rescue in California and New Mexico

The United States Army, Navy, and Marine Corps have made significant microgrid commitments in recent months. In February, the Army announced it would build a microgrid at each of its bases around the world by 2035. In May, the Navy and Marine Corps made similar commitments.

It is therefore not surprising that military microgrid projects are making headlines. In San Diego, there was a real-world demonstration of how military microgrids can support communities off base in times of crisis. And in New Mexico, HSGS-Ameresco announced plans for a new microgrid to improve power reliability at a large military test facility.

MCAS Miramar to the rescue

NAVFAC Southwest operated the MCAS Miramar Microgrid Power Plant to help SDG&E avoid an electrical emergency. Photo by Mario Icari

On August 17, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar and Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Southwest operated the base’s microgrid power plant to help California utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) avoid an electrical emergency. At the utility’s request, NAVFAC Southwest operated the microgrid for five hours, allowing SDG&E to provide continuous power to 300,000 homes in the San Diego area during a period of high grid demand.

This real-world demonstration of how the base’s microgrid can support the community in an emergency was “a huge win for the combined team of the California Public Utility Commission, SDG&E, MCAS Miramar and NAVFAC Southwest” , said Commander Jon Angle, public works officer for MCAS Miramar.

The MCAS Miramar micro-grid is based on 50% renewable energy and includes Tier 4 clean-burning diesel generators, meaning the base has supported the community with cleaner-burning generation than the grid would provide usually.

A unique and innovative agreement

MCAS Miramar and NAVFAC Southwest responded to a statewide flexible alert as part of the Miramar Summer Generation Incentive, an agreement the base and NAVFAC Southwest entered into with the California Public Utilities Commission and SDG&E to provide a generation support. Adopted in the summer of 2021, it was the first time the agreement had been used.

Commander Angle said of the deal, “It’s the first of its kind and one of the most innovative things we’ve done.” In exchange for its support, SDG&E will issue energy credits to MCAS Miramar.

Mick Wasco, energy manager for Air Station San Diego, is credited with the idea of ​​using the base’s microgrid to support the utility and the larger grid before it suffered an emergency. . He shared his experience of microgrid development in a video panel discussion featured on Microgrid Knowledge.

White Sands Missile Range will get a new microgrid

Also announced last week, HSGS-Ameresco has won a contract to install a microgrid at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) in New Mexico. The micro-grid will include a 700 kW photovoltaic solar generator, a 500 kW natural gas generator and a 500 kW energy storage system.

Dave McNeil, President and CEO of HSGS-Ameresco, said, “This set of diverse solutions will strengthen the energy and water resilience of the base, so that it is no longer dependent on a single energy source.

The microgrid is designed to supply 14 days of electricity to drinking water wells, the army research laboratory, the materials testing branch and the fire department of the largest testing facility Ministry of Defense outdoor military.

Construction of the microgrid will begin later this year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

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New Mexico contract awarded to veteran-owned company

HSGS-Ameresco, the joint venture that won the WSMR contract, is a small business owned by a disabled veteran. As part of the project, HSGS-Ameresco will install cybersecurity, anti-terrorism and physical security measures for the microgrid.

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