Microgrids: Small But Mighty

Editor’s Note:  Over the past decade, SDG&E has been continually perfecting one of the first large, utility-scale microgrids in the United States—the Borrego Springs Microgrid—located in a desert community about 90 miles northeast of San Diego. As one of the early adopters of microgrid technologies, our project was recently mentioned in a TIME article highlighting the growing popularity of microgrids across America.

The Borrego Springs Microgrid is connected to the nearby 26-megawatt Borrego Solar Project and two backup generators. This combination of resources, along with onsite battery storage, means the microgrid can disconnect from the regional grid and operate independently if necessary.

In May 2015, the Borrego Springs Microgrid powered the entire community of Borrego Springs—2,800 customers—during planned grid maintenance, thus avoiding major service interruptions. This solution was believed to be the first time in the nation that a microgrid has leveraged renewable energy to power an entire community.

The microgrid has enhanced energy reliability for Borrego Springs, which is connected to the main grid by a single transmission line and regularly experiences extreme weather conditions. In addition, the microgrid’s ability to integrate more renewable energy helps to reduce the community’s carbon footprint.

Check out “A Small-Scale Power Solution Could Pay Big Dividends Across the U.S.” published by TIME to see why SDG&E, the military, and others are deploying microgrids across the nation.