Studies Examine the Value of Microgrids After Earthquakes in San Francisco

Nov. 23, 2015
The Rocky Mountain Institute is studying the value of microgrids after earthquakes in San Francisco, focusing on creating a network of microgrids that would protect critical resources and serve as emergency centers.

The Rocky  Mountain Institute is studying the value of microgrids after earthquakes in San Francisco, focusing on creating a network of microgrids that would protect critical resources and serve as emergency centers.

In this podcast interview (click on the player above), Koben Calhoun, a manager at RMI, and Leia Guccione, also a manager at RMI, discuss their efforts to create a plan for creating and funding such a network, most likely made up of 10 microgrids.

The USGS has reported that California has a 99 percent chance of an earthquake registering 6.7 or above in the next 30 years. Last year, a 6.0 earthquake left more than 40,000 people in the San Francisco Bay area without power. They city wants to prepare for the next big quake with microgrids, RMI says. Recently, the DOE’s solar market pathways program provided funding to San Francisco to integrate solar and energy storage into San Francisco’s emergency response plans.

RMI is helping out with this effort through its eLab Accelerator program, which f0cuses on innovations in energy.

“The challenge is the threat of a major earthquake and its effect on the community and energy systems,” says Calhoun in this interview.
In addition, RMI is looking at how to gain support and buy-in from the community. The institute is also studying wh0 would own the microgrids and how to finance them.
“Who would own the microgrids is not defined. We will answer those questions,” says Guccione in the podcast. “What’s unique about San Francisco is that this would not be just one microgrid but ten microgrids.” One microgrid might serve, for example, a firehouse,  senior center and hospital. “We’re looking at multiple-tenant microgrids,” she says. The microgrids would most likely be scattered around San Francisco to provide a network of distributed resources and emergency centers.
Learn more about RMI’s eLab Accelerator program by visiting http://www.rmi.org/elab
About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

Twitter: @LisaECohn

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