California wastewater and waste management agencies plan microgrid, issue RFQ/RFP

July 4, 2022
Monterey One Water, a wastewater facility in Monterey, California, plans to develop a microgrid that will be shared with a co-located waste management plant, and it has issued a solicitation for design help.

Monterey One Water, a wastewater facility in Monterey, California, plans to develop a microgrid that will be shared with a co-located waste management plant, and it has issued a solicitation for help with design and feasibility studies.

The public agency has scheduled a mandatory meeting July 7 for those interested in participating. Proposals are due Aug. 1.

“Uninterrupted wastewater and solid waste recycling and disposal services are vital to protecting public health and the environment,” Monterey One wrote in the request for qualifications/proposals (RFQ/RFP). “In recent years, the county has experienced firsthand the impacts of wildfires, drought, prolonged rain events and coastal storm surges. These events put critical facilities at risk of service disruption and damage due to power outages.”

Located on almost 600 acres of land in northwestern Monterey County, the two facilities are served by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). They are looking to:

  • Evaluate the highest and best use of their waste and waste byproducts, be it as a renewable energy or heat source, renewable natural gas or other reuse products, such as fertilizer, biochar and feedstock to composting.
  • Study and implement a microgrid with islanding capability to secure 24/7 resilience.
  • Integrate renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and battery storage.

Monterey One and the Monterey Regional Waste Management District are open to either a behind-the-meter or front-of-the meter project. The agencies envision joining their electrical loads by way of the microgrid, which will be grid-connected. The microgrid would have black start capability.

The RFQ/RFP offered three possible project configurations, although the agencies said they are open to other ideas from consultants.

Under the first approach, described as the simplest, the waste management facility would develop a behind-the-meter microgrid with the ability to transmit power over the fence to the three, separately metered major loads at the wastewater facility. The goal would be to provide resilience and better energy pricing for both agencies. Under this scenario, the microgrid feeds energy to the wastewater facility to offset its grid demand.

The second approach, a bit more sophisticated, would result in an integrated microgrid serving both facilities behind the meter. The two facilities would operate and function as a single integrated microgrid. 

Watch this video from MIcrogrid 2022 to learn how smart cities are using microgrids to ensure electric reliability at water treatment facilities.

The third option is the most complex and would create a front-of-the-meter, multicustomer microgrid that uses existing PG&E control equipment in the immediate area. The microgrid would not only serve the two facilities but also other users in the area, making it potentially eligible for a tariff offered through PG&E’s community Microgrid Enablement Program. While the project would be on PG&E’s distribution system, the grid-forming generation would be owned and operated by the facilities.

Applicants will be chosen based on a 100-point system with highest points for the proposer’s understanding of the feasibility study projects and scope, relevant experience and organization qualifications.

The schedule calls for choosing a consultant in late September and beginning the contract by Oct. 3. 

The detailed RFQ/RFP is available on the Monterey One website

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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, 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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