Native American Energy Developer to Build Tribal Microgrid with $1.2M California Grant 

Oct. 20, 2020
Indian Energy plans to install flywheel technology as long-duration, non-lithium ion energy storage at a microgrid in San Diego County.

Indian Energy, a Native American-owned microgrid development and systems integration firm, plans to install flywheel technology as long-duration, non-lithium ion energy storage at a microgrid in San Diego County.

Photo by Olivier Le Moal/

This year, it was among organizations awarded grants by the California Energy Commission to demonstrate long-lasting, reliable, renewable power. The application form cites long-duration, non-lithium ion energy storage as the “final key” to permanently evading the blackouts and brownouts that California faces due to fires, the changing energy mix and climate change. Without storage, it notes, 100% renewable power is not possible.

The commission also states that as California increases its share of renewables on the grid, the state needs more cost-effective and high performing storage systems. Branching out to emerging technologies and away from lithium batteries is a requirement to meet this goal, they said.

This award requires the project to demonstrate non-lithium ion energy storage for 10 hours or longer at a minimum rating of 50 kW. It must support the needs of Native American Tribal communities. The grants fund both the installation and operation of pre-and post-commercial energy storage technologies.

Indian Energy will build the project on the 1,600-acre reservation belonging to the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, located east of Alpine in San Diego County. The completed system will incorporate 150 kW of solar PV to provide grid support and resiliency to the tribe’s emergency medical services facility.

“Indian Country is honored to play a critical role in demonstrating the value of long-duration, utility-scale energy storage. With the state’s firestorms, historical record-breaking heat and stress to the local and regional grids, the need for energy storage is urgent,” said Allen Cadreau, Indian Energy CEO.

Indian Energy joins with Webcor as its construction partner and KESC as the solar and energy storage contractor. KESC will develop an energy storage integration and certification unit (VICU) to use the long-duration energy storage capabilities.

The commission awarded the grant on August 4 and the project kick-off was on September 1. Construction will start and the system will be online in 2021, according to Indian Energy.

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Sharon Bennett

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