Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
When California’s energy grid gets stressed out during heat waves, energy managers send out so-called flex alerts asking people to conserve energy.
An innovative energy project underway in Santa Rosa aims to take that flexibility to new levels by helping a huge energy user — the city’s water treatment plant — quickly reduce its energy usage while still performing its core mission of cleaning water.
A 125-kilowatt solar array popping up above the parking lot of the Laguna Subregional Water Reclamation plant on Llano Road is the first visible sign of a yearslong effort to turn the plant into a microgrid capable of reducing its use of electricity from the grid.
“Increasing our flexibility to produce energy on-site allows us to adjust our demand on the macro grid, and doing that is worth money,” said Mike Prinz, deputy director of Santa Rosa Water.
Microgrids, as the name implies, are small electric networks that can operate, to varying degrees, independently of the larger electrical grid managed locally by Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
The solar panels are not the core of the new system, but will help recharge the batteries that are being installed later this year as part of the project.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8305925-181/solar-panels-to-help-power