Port of Long Beach, California Microgrid

In early 2018 the Port of Long Beach, California in conjunction with Schneider Electric, began planning a microgrid solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project. The project will enhance reliability and resiliency of the port’s electricity supply, and reduce the port’s carbon footprint, while simultaneously strengthening local workforce development initiatives, and providing paid, on-the-job training to port workers. By powering the port’s electric terminal equipment and reducing its reliance on diesel generators and the grid, the project reduces the port’s greenhouse (GHG) emissions footprint and criteria air pollutant emissions. The microgrid implementation will use union labor from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with paid training hours to fill workers’ knowledge gaps in installing comparable microgrids. Moreover, the project enlists and provides educational experience to students from the University of California - Irvine, Advanced Power and Energy program in analyzing its performance data. Funding for the plan comes from a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC), combined with $2.12 million in matched funds from the Port of Long Beach. The grant requires that the project demonstrate benefits to electricity customers in the local grid in the form of enhanced reliability, lower costs, or improved safety. An overriding objective of all CEC grant projects is to “lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome barriers to achieving the state’s statutory energy goals.” As such, the project must document lessons learned in implementation and maintenance in promotion of replicability of similar projects, and the commercialization of microgrids more broadly.

The 3,200 acre Port of Long Beach features 10 piers, 68 cranes, and 31 miles of waterfront. Goods valued at over $200 billion pass through the port annually, with the port supporting 575,000 Southern California jobs. As a result, lost power can entail economic costs in the millions or billions of dollars in the forms of perished goods and lost working hours. While the port presently has diesel generators to minimize the likelihood of such occurrences, these generators do not advance the port’s zero-emissions goals, “nor do they provide power during a potential catastrophic outage.” Furthermore, diesel emissions also include pollutants that can have adverse health and/or environmental effects.The project promotes continuity of business at the port’s terminals, operations reliability of the port’s main control center, and the port’s zero emissions goals. 

The planned microgrid has three key hardware components: a 300 kW solar array, a 330 kW / 670 kWh stationary BESS with an Energy Control Center, and a 250 kW / 220 kWh mobile BESS. In addition, the project includes demand management software, such as the Schneider EcoStruxure Microgrid Advisor, to promote electricity demand response, peak shaving, microgrid islanding, and Distributed Energy Resource (DER) integration. 

As a condition of grant funding, the port must document and demonstrate that the project reduces the port’s GHG footprint and criteria air pollutant emissions. The microgrid’s status as a future power source for electrified terminal equipment, which the port has committed to purchasing as part of its Clean Air Action Plan, offers one example of how the microgrid will lower facility GHG and particulate matter emissions. Two additional pathways through which the microgrid will reduce emissions is by (a) offsetting diesel generator emissions during power outages, and (b) reducing the port’s reliance on the grid, which gets some of its electricity from fossil fuel combustion. The microgrid’s role in reducing particulate matter emissions is particularly important given that the area surrounding the port has the worst air quality rating that the CalEPA awards to localities and is the subject of many environmental justice campaigns in the Long Beach area.

The project’s implementation will use union labor from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with paid training hours to fill workers’ knowledge gaps in installing comparable microgrids. For every journeyman hour spent on the microgrid installation, the project provides 20% paid apprenticeship hours. The project will also offer paid training for operating the microgrid. Further still, the project will develop a curriculum on energy storage and microgrid technologies, which will be made available to port employees.  Moreover, the project enlists and provides educational experience to students from the University of California, Irvine, Advanced Power and Energy program in analyzing its performance data. The project must produce and analyze at least 12 months’ worth of operational, environmental, economic, and technical data in promotion of replicability and scalability of similar projects elsewhere. By including students in this process, the project builds up workforce expertise in microgrid initiatives.

Grant funding from the California Energy Commission for the project comes with several conditions designed to maximize effectiveness of grid customers’ funds, reduce GHG emissions, enhance grid reliability, and spur development of pre-commercial technologies and strategies. The funding is part of the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) Program, an initiative established by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2011 designed to promote the aforementioned benefits. Grant money must benefit grid customers (the funders) by means of improving grid reliability, lowering costs, and improving safety. By reducing the Port of Long Beach’s reliance on the grid for electricity, especially during peak demand periods through the microgrid’s peak shaving technology, the project aims to meet these three objectives. The grant seeks to maximize funding effectiveness by requiring that the Port of Long Beach match 20% of the awarded funding, either with funds out of pocket or through alternative funding sources. The Port of Long Beach is matching the $5 million grant with $2.12 million in out of pocket funds. Discussion above highlights how the project promotes the grant’s goal of reducing GHG emissions. Finally, the requisite compilation and analysis of project performance data, coupled with mandatory discussion of lessons learned in implementing and running the program, promote development of the “pre-commercial” microgrid project technology for enhanced replicability and more widespread use.

 

Publication Date: 2018

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  • Port of Long Beach, California

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