Microgrids Help Integrate Renewable Energy and Improve Community Resiliency
SDG&E is committed to modernizing the power grid to integrate more clean energy, enhance reliability and improve safety.
Microgrids, basically mini power grids, use technologies such as energy storage to provide power to specific communities/neighborhoods if an outage occurs on the larger grid.
SDG&E submitted a plan to the California Public Utilities Commission in 2018 to expand energy storage and microgrids throughout the San Diego region. If approved by the CPUC, up to 166 megawatts of energy storage would be built to enhance power reliability for public facilities such as police and fire stations throughout the region.
Pending CPUC approval in 2019, these projects could be implemented in phases over the next few years with all projects in operation by 2024.
The plan also includes an Energy Storage Customer Program, which helps bridge the financial gap for low-income care facilities to purchase their own energy storage system.
The Borrego Springs Microgrid is a Glimpse into the Future
The first of its kind in the area, the Borrego Springs microgrid uses Smart Grid technology—including local power generation, local energy storage, and automated switching—to create a more robust, resilient grid that can dynamically react to changing environmental and system conditions. Borrego Spring’s microgrid is connected to the Smart Grid, but can disconnect and function independently during emergencies, supplying vital electricity to the local community through its onsite resources.
Test Case: When Lightning Strikes
On the afternoon of Sept. 6, 2013, intense thunderstorms blew into Borrego Springs, causing heavy rain, flash floods, high winds, and severe lightning that shattered a power pole on the only transmission line serving the community, cutting electricity to the town’s 2,780 power customers.
SDG&E repair crews quickly arrived on the scene and worked through the night to restore power to all customers. This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill power restoration because crews were able to make use of a special advantage: SDG&E’s Borrego Springs
microgrid which enabled a faster, more complete recovery.
A Glimpse into the Future
The Borrego Springs microgrid offers a powerful example of what new Smart Grid technology can do. When this experimental project was used during an actual power emergency, it gave us and our customers a glimpse of a possible “utility of the future”—one in which the grid itself can respond to outages by routing and restoring power where it’s most needed, bringing vital energy to residents and quite possibly saving lives in the process.