Project Overview

Tribe/Awardee
Rincon San Luiseño Band of Mission Indians

Location
Valley Center, CA

Project Title
Rincon Government Center Microgrid Project

Type of Application
Deployment

DOE Grant Number
DE-IE0000127

Project Amounts
DOE: $1,501,938
Awardee: $500,647
Total: $2,002,585

Project Status
See project status 

Project Period of Performance
Start: 4/1/2021
End: 3/31/2024

Summary

The Rincon San Luiseño Band of Mission Indians will install a microgrid that integrates 290 kilowatts (kW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity together with 140 kW/560 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of new battery storage capacity to displace grid-delivered power and maintain resilient energy service. The system will integrate 150 kW of existing diesel-fueled standby generation to support additional resilience. This microgrid project will provide resilient energy for an essential tribal facility that includes, among other functions, emergency public shelter, emergency operations management, police, communications, and electric vehicle charging systems that support the entire Reservation. In addition to powering microgrid operations, the 290 kW of new solar PV capacity is expected to generate 486.4 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in the first year and, operated together with battery storage, reduce energy costs by $2,810,196 over the 25-year system lifetime.

Project Description

Background

The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians occupies a 4,665-acre Reservation in northeastern San Diego County within the San Luis Rey Watershed. Established in 1875, the Rincon Band is one of six federally recognized Southern California tribes comprised of Luiseño people, which are considered one of the groups of the California Mission Indians.

The Rincon Band has established a series of strategic energy and resilience goals, addressing the Band's energy sovereignty, self-sufficiency, sustainability, resilience, and affordability goals. The Rincon Strategic Energy and Resiliency Plan describes a series of planning objectives that guide the Band's progress toward reliance on renewable energy for 80% of its requirements, half of which is to be from energy sources located on the Rincon Reservation. Toward these goals, several years ago the Band invested $13 million in a 1-megawatt (MW) ground-mounted solar PV system. Recently, the Band retrofitted 10,000 light fixtures with energy-efficient lamps. The Band is now working to procure solar-powered microgrid systems for the Rincon Fire Station, Harrah's Resort, wastewater treatment plant, and travel center, and is investigating establishing a tribal utility entity to support its energy sovereignty and self-sufficiency goals.

The Rincon Reservation faces multiple hazards that threaten the safety of the community and its most vital assets, such as earthquakes, floods, and increasing wildfire risks and "red flag warnings" that lead to deenergizing of utility transmission and distribution lines. The Rincon Reservation is located within the Tier 3 "Extreme" fire risk area defined by California Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Due to the recent history of utility-related fires in California, utilities are being required by the California PUC to bolster their wildfire mitigation policies and procedures. These wildfire risks prompted San Diego Gas and Electric Company to enact Public Safety Power Shutoff protocols that affected the Rincon Reservation multiple times. Wildfire risks caused long-duration power outages in the Rincon community for more than 90 cumulative hours. The Rincon Band anticipates increasing risk of outages and other wildfire-related threats in the area.

The Rincon Government Center Microgrid Project will strengthen the Tribe's ability to protect Rincon tribal members.

Project Objectives

The primary goal of the Rincon Government Center Microgrid Project is to deploy resilient energy systems to assure sustainable and affordable energy supplies for facilities and services that are essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. Secondary goals include supporting tribal sovereignty and self-sufficiency by enabling the Band to exercise control over the way energy is produced and managed on the Rincon Reservation, and reducing dependence on external energy supplies.

The Rincon Government Center Microgrid Project is designed to assure resilient and sustainable energy supplies for a facility that is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians. Expected benefits from the project include saving more than $97,000 in energy costs in the first year and more than $2,8 million over the 25-year system lifetime; reducing CO2, SO2, and Nox emissions; supporting the Band's energy independence; and increasing energy reliability performance.

This project includes a sustainable energy system, located at the Rincon Tribal Government Center, capable of autonomous operation for vital services. This project will provide resilient energy for an essential tribal facility that includes, among other functions, police, emergency management, emergency public shelter, electric vehicle charging, and communications systems that support the entire Reservation. 

The completed system will integrate existing standby generation capacity with additional new generation capacity (rooftop- and carport-mounted solar PV), battery energy storage systems, microgrid controls, and energy management technologies. In addition to powering microgrid operations, the project's 290 kW of new PV capacity is expected to generate 486.4 MWh of electricity in the first year and 11,125 MWh over the project's 25-year lifetime.

Project Scope

To achieve the project goals and objectives, the microgrid will assure solar and diesel-powered electric autonomy for the following essential services: tribal police and security, emergency operations management, emergency communications electric vehicle charging for up to eight vehicles, and emergency public sheltering for 100 or more tribal members.

Key design objectives focus on the systems' ability to:

  • Assure sufficient solar generation and energy management capabilities to enable autonomous daytime operation with minimal reliance on diesel generation during typical load and solar generation conditions
  • Provide at least four hours of battery-only autonomy during maximum loading conditions metered at the site (e.g., 140 kW of electric demand)
  • Enable scalability of resilient, sustainable, and affordable energy sources through integration of additional renewable generation and energy storage capacity in the future, if and as needed to support additional loads at the site.

The overall work scope includes the following major tasks: 1) Project Management and Reporting, 2) Procurement and Contracting, 3) Engineering Design, 4) Permitting and Approvals, 5) Purchasing and Delivery of Equipment and Supplies, 6) Construction and Installation, 7) Integration and Configuration of System Controls, 8) Project Commissioning and Interconnection, 9) Construction Closeout, 10) Operations and Maintenance Training for Tribal Staff, and 11) Year 1 Operations.

Project Location

This project will take place on the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians Reservation located in northeastern San Diego County within the San Luis Rey Watershed. The Rincon Government Center Microgrid Project will support the Tribe's essential services, including emergency public shelter, tribal security (police), emergency operations management, telecommunications, and electric vehicle charging.

Project Status

The project was competitively selected under the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy's Fiscal year 2019 funding opportunity announcement "Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands - 2020" (DE-FOA-0002168) and started in April 2021.

The project status reports provide more information.