Oregon DOE grant fully funds Ashland community resilience microgrid

Oct. 27, 2022
The Oregon Department of Energy will fully fund a community resilience microgrid project to support critical infrastructure in the city of Ashland.
The Oregon Department of Energy (DOE) will fully fund a microgrid project to support critical infrastructure in the city of Ashland. The $940,000 community resilience project will be implemented by Stracker Solar, an Ashland-based solar company.

Allen Gilstrap, CEO of Stracker Solar, said that the project will set Ashland up as a leader in solar technology and energy security.

Grant funds provide community resilience at no cost to the city

The microgrid, which is expected to generate 170,000 kWh of electricity each year, will include a 75 kW dual-axis solar tracking system and lithium battery storage. The installation will be located at the City Service Center and will allow continued operations for the city’s police and electric departments, as well as a fiber network, in case of a grid outage.

Ashland Mayor Julie Akins said that the city “is gratified to be part of this forward-thinking project which will add resilience to our city’s emergency response.”

The grant, which was part of the Oregon Community Renewable Energy Grant Program, was awarded based on the feasibility and strength of the project, as well as expected cost savings, economic development opportunities and its ability to achieve equity goals, such as environmental justice.

Jeff Sharpe, Stracker’s lead engineer on the project, noted that because Ashland’s microgrid will be fully funded by the Oregon DOE grant, the city will get a “high-profile solar resilience project for city emergency services, at no cost.”

EVs will be integrated into the microgrid

The microgrid will support other critical city services including vehicle fueling stations to serve the city ambulance and fire vehicles.

The project also includes the installation of 480V level 3 charging stations for the city’s expanding fleet of electric vehicles (EVs). The microgrid will integrate the batteries from those EVs as another energy resource.

Local university also awarded funds for renewable energy project

Sharpe added that nearly $2 million from the first round of the Oregon DOE’s Community Renewable Energy Grant Program will be used to advance sustainable energy in Ashland. In addition to the funds awarded to the city, Southern Oregon University (SOU) was granted $1 million to expand its solar generation and storage capacity.

SOU currently has nine solar arrays on its Ashland campus. The state funds will partially pay for two additional arrays and a battery storage system. The two new arrays will bring the university’s generating capacity up to 814 kW.

SOU is also awaiting confirmation on an additional $2 million federal grant that will further fund its campuswide solar buildout initiative.

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About the Author

Kathy Hitchens | Special Projects Editor

I work as a writer and special projects editor for Microgrid Knowledge. I have over 30 years of writing experience, working with a variety of companies in the renewable energy, electric vehicle and utility sector, as well as those in the entertainment, education, and financial industries. I have a BFA in Media Arts from the University of Arizona and a MBA from the University of Denver.

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