Stone Edge Farm Microgrid Wins California’s Highest Environmental Honor

Jan. 18, 2018
Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, home of a microgrid noted for its performance during the California wildfires last year, now has received an additional accolade — California’s highest environmental honor, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award.

Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, home of a microgrid noted for its performance during the California wildfires last year, now has received an additional accolade — California’s highest environmental honor, Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA).

The Sonoma-based wine producer was recognized for “Sustainable Practices, Communities or Facilities,” one of five categories of the annual award administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and presented in Sacramento.

The GEELA program honors individuals, organizations, and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s  resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, building public-private partnerships and strengthening the state’s economy.

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The 16-acre Stone Edge farm describes itself as  a“demonstration farm for what is possible,” at the cutting edge of soil, water, air and energy conservation. Cover crops and extensive composting ensure soil and plant health, and monitoring technologies have cut water use in half.

But Stone Edge says its most dramatic results in air and energy conservation have come from the Stone Edge Farm MicroGrid (SEFMG).

To demonstrate how far below zero carbon emissions the farm could go, and to establish clean, economical energy independence, over the past four years the farm and Wooster Engineering developed the microgrid.

An open-source project, the microgrid stores electricity from solar panels in seven different battery technologies as well as in the form of hydrogen gas. The hydrogen is stored until needed, either to make electricity in fuel cell hives or to power fuel cell cars. The marginal cost of the hydrogen is zero, and the by-product of its use is pure water.

“When the farm underwent a precautionary evacuation during the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma, the MicroGrid ‘islanded,’ or ran independently from the utility grid,” said Craig Wooster, SEFMG project manager and general contractor. “So the farm continued to operate smoothly, including powering irrigation pumps, while surrounded by power outages for over a week, monitored from afar by cell phone.”

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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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