Los Angeles Again Rolls Out Big Microgrid Plans, This Time for Transportation Electrification

Nov. 9, 2021
Greater Los Angeles, California, is emerging as an innovation hub for microgrids, evidenced most recently by a plan to install what is being described as one of the US’ largest electric vehicle (EV) charging stations powered by a solar and storage microgrid.

Greater Los Angeles, California, is emerging as an innovation hub for microgrids, evidenced most recently by a plan to install what is being described as one of the US’ largest EV charging stations powered by a solar and storage microgrid.

The Washington Bus Yard project comes as the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) works to transition to an all-electric fleet by 2028 under a Green New Deal plan put forward by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“Los Angeles is on track to achieve a zero-emission future and our investments in clean transportation systems are driving that progress,” Garcetti said. “The more electric vehicles we put on our streets today, the more we can lower emissions to ensure a healthier, more sustainable tomorrow.”

With a $6 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC), the solar and storage microgrid will serve a 7.5-MW EV charging system, making it what vendor Proterra Energy describes as one of the largest projects of its kind in the US. Its power will come from 1.5 MW of rooftop and canopy solar paired with 4.5 MWh of energy storage. The microgrid will power five 1.5-MW fleet chargers with 104 remote EV charging dispensers.

Washington Bus Yard project budget from CEC grant application

The microgrid is meant to help the transportation department reach its electrification goals at the lowest cost possible, while minimizing the impact on the electric grid and providing resiliency, according to the grant application submitted to the CEC.

Proterra Energy, a California-based manufacturer of EVs and charging equipment, will provide the charging infrastructure. Proterra also recently delivered its 25th battery-electric transit bus to LADOT. Apparent, an energy management company, also based in California, is supplying the operating system platform.

Announcement of the project follows the release of a sweeping plan in September by the County of Los Angeles to create a $41 million program that includes a regional microgrid agency to serve an area that encompasses roughly half of California’s population. The Regional Public Agency Microgrid Program would act as a centralized resource to help local governments and public agencies implement microgrids.

The county introduced the idea to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) after the commission requested ideas about how to overcome a projected electric capacity shortfall in the state.

The regional microgrid agency did not make the cut in a recent advisory issued by a state administrative law judge. However, the judge did recommend that the county seek funding through the state’s $200 million microgrid incentive program for three microgrids that it proposed as part of the plan.

The CPUC will vote on the administrative law judge’s proposed decision at its Dec. 2 meeting.

Separately, the Port of Los Angeles has included a microgrid within its Green Omni Terminal Demonstration Project, which is designed to meet the port’s energy needs from renewable sources.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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