Northern California casino offers a template for resilient microgrids

Solar power with batteries and backup generators provide weeks of self-reliance.

May 23, 2019 |

Courtesy Pixabay

Blue Lake Rancheria, in Northern California is an area vulnerable to wildfires, tsunamis, and earthquakes.

Considering those risks, the tribe that owns the casino property has created its own solar-powered microgrid that can disconnect from the main grid and run off Tesla battery power. The installation powers six buildings, including a 55,000 sf casino and 102 hotel rooms totaling more than 140,000 sf of space.

Six core buildings could last for months on solar power, supported with backup generators during the night or on cloudy days. Blue Lake Rancheria’s microgrid could provide other mountain towns with a template for building their own.

Microgrids could help reduce the incidences of wildfires in these areas, as sparks from electric equipment have been blamed for major fires including last year’s devastating blaze in Paradise, Calif. If the utility had cut power when winds near Paradise kicked up, that deadly wildfire might never have ignited. Microgrids with backup batteries allow buildings providing vital services to remain operational if the main grid fails or is shut down.

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