Disadvantaged California Community to Host the Largest Advanced Energy Community Built on Blockchain

(Credit: Pixabay)

The Energy Coalition and Community Electricity, in collaboration with UCLA and a consortium of partners, have been awarded a $9 million California Energy Commission (CEC) EPIC grant.

The Bassett-Avocado Advanced Energy Community (BAAEC) is a local, disadvantaged community that is serving as the host of the project. The consortium will deploy a model focused on providing affordable, locally produced renewable energy and energy services at scale within a disadvantaged community. This model will further support communities highly affected by the covid-19 crisis, introducing a feasible and concrete protocol to decarbonize and improve the overall health of the community.

The BAAEC is a 28,000-resident community that will serve enrolled participants using a system comprised of seven main components:

  1. a digital application to engage and guide community members toward decarbonization: “people first”
  2. a smart community solar and storage system to offset annual electricity load
  3. a campus microgrid resilience hub to provide clean back-up power to the community in emergencies, severe heat days or blackouts
  4. a prosumer network and a virtual power plant integrating 50 single-family homes equipped with solar photovoltaic and battery storage to demonstrate a Blockchain community network pilot
  5. a mobile grid that includes a community-operated EV vanpooling service and a network of fast EV charging stations to decrease the use of fossil fuel vehicles, reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality
  6. an indoor-outdoor smart pollution sensor network including an IoT-based NOx emissions monitoring system to measure and improve emissions from fossil fuel vehicles still operating within the community
  7. a mobile living laboratory to periodically perform rounds throughout the community, measuring and reporting real-time decarbonization impact

The design of the prototype began as Phase I in 2016. Phase II is expected to start implementation by June 2020, targeting to be completed by 2023.

Funding for the project comes from the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program, which supports clean energy research in California. The BAAEC Prototype Phase I and Phase II total investment will be close to $20 million dollars, including partner matching funds. Additional partners in the prototype build-out include: ACLIMA, Ampere Energy, EnelX, Google, Green Commuter/EVShare, Grid Alternatives, IoT SENSORCOM, Purple Air, Solarays, Sonnen, Space AI, StrongBlock, Tetra Innovations Group, Tritium, and Winn Energy Control.

California has used microgrids in the past to harness clean, secure energy. In March, McKinleyville Community Services District in California announced it would build an integrated microgrid at the community’s Hiller Park wastewater treatment plant. The microgrid will incorporate existing diesel generation along with new solar photovoltaic and battery energy storage assets to optimize electrical grid resiliency while delivering both financial and environmental benefits to the community.