Ameresco Acquiring Army Base Los Alamitos Microgrid and Project Developer Bright Canyon Energy

Aug. 10, 2023
The microgrid is only the first phase in the deal between Ameresco and Pinnacle West Capital Corp., which owns Bright Canyon Energy. The second phase, expected to close later this year, is the acquisition of Bright Canyon Energy Corp. itself.

Renewable energy project developer Ameresco is acquiring the solar-storage and genset microgrid under construction at Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, California, from developer Bright Canyon Energy.

Bright Canyon initiated work on the Los Alamitos project which is being built to include 31.5 MW of solar power capacity, a 20-MW/40-MWh battery storage system, 3 MW of tier 4 backup generators and microgrid controls. The microgrid is being completed on 100 acres of land leased from the U.S. Army, which has a climate strategy mandating microgrids on every installation by 2035.

The Los Alamitos project is designed to provide power resiliency for the Joint Forces Training Base and for the surrounding grid, which is operated by San Diego Gas & Electric.

The acquisition of the Joint Base Los Alamitos microgrid is only the first phase in the deal between Ameresco and holding company Pinnacle West Capital Corp., which owns Bright Canyon Energy. The second phase, expected to close later this year, is the acquisition of Bright Canyon Energy Corp. itself, as well as its interest in Kupono Solar Development Co. and other project subsidiaries.

“Now more than ever, the combination of distributed generation and energy storage systems are playing a more critical role in enhancing clean backup power while bolstering security for our military partners,” Nicole Bulgarino, Ameresco’s executive vice president and general manager, Federal Solutions, said. “We appreciate the opportunity to work side by side with the California Military Department to help reach their mission.”

The microgrid being deployed at Los Alamitos will provide the military base with 100-percent backup power in emergencies to support Army and California National Guard operations there. During normal operation, it will supply solar energy for the surrounding community.

The power capacity should be sufficient to serve the equivalent of more than 5,000 homes, according to the companies.

During the Microgrid Knowledge Conference in Anaheim this May, Bright Canyon Energy’s vice president Jason Smith talked about the benefits and realities of the project. The microgrid will be connected to the SDG&E grid as a revenue opportunity, but the first commitment is to serve the military base when needed.

“This is really an at-the-meter project,” Smith pointed out at the MGK event. “When the grid is up and running, the power goes to San Diego Gas & Electric. When the grid goes down, we turn it inward.”

The Joint Forces Training Base-Los Alamitos Army Microgrid was first announced in fall 2021. The U.S. Army executed the 30-year lease to Bright Canyon Energy in 2022.

Massachusetts-based Ameresco has undertaken numerous energy sustainability and efficiency projects at U.S. military installations in recent years. Those facilities include Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Air Force Base, Fort Detrick Army Base and the Tooele Army Depot in Utah under its joint venture with HSGS.

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About the Author

Rod Walton, Managing Editor | Managing Editor

For Microgrid Knowledge editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

I’ve spent the last 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. I was an energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World before moving to business-to-business media at PennWell Publishing, which later became Clarion Events, where I covered the electric power industry. I joined Endeavor Business Media in November 2021 to help launch EnergyTech, one of the company’s newest media brands. I joined Microgrid Knowledge in July 2023. 

I earned my Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. My career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World, all in Oklahoma . I have been married to Laura for the past 33-plus years and we have four children and one adorable granddaughter. We want the energy transition to make their lives better in the future. 

Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech are focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.

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