SCE-Supported Residential Microgrid a First in California
U.S. Department of Energy, KB Home and SunPower are among those bringing energy efficiency and backup power to new homes in Menifee’s ‘Connected Community.’
By Paul Griffo
If a power outage were to occur in a new housing development in Menifee, residents might not even be aware of it. Because in addition to having individual battery storage, the new homes are being connected to a microgrid powered by a large, shared community battery.
In partnership with solar energy service provider SunPower, KB Home has opened its first microgrid-connected community, which includes the Oak Shade and Durango subdivisions of its Shadow Mountain development. The more than 200 state-of-the-art, all-electric homes are equipped with heat pump HVAC systems and water heaters, electric dryers and induction cooktops.
The residential microgrid project is believed to be the first of its kind in California and is designed to serve as a model for similar developments.
Each home, while maintaining its regular service with Southern California Edison, is designed to operate during a power outage as part of a self-supporting microgrid, drawing energy from its own battery and the larger community battery.
The configuration will allow homeowners to power lights, refrigeration and Wi-Fi during an outage. While the sun is shining, individual and community batteries can be continually recharged using excess solar generation until the outage is over.
“SCE sees microgrids as being among the future solutions for certain grid issues that we’ve identified through our grid planning processes,” said Erik Takayesu, SCE senior vice president of Asset Strategy & Planning. “The goal of this particular project is to demonstrate the benefits to both customers and the utilities of connected community microgrids, including enhanced reliability and resiliency.”
The project has received a $6.65 million grant from the Department of Energy through its Connected Communities program. SunPower conceptualized the project and is the project lead, providing solar panels, battery storage and electric vehicle charging options for each home.
Schneider Electric will provide microgrid design and engineering support, and there is a strong collaboration with SCE to ensure a smooth transition between grid and off-grid microgrid operations. The Advanced Power and Energy Program at UC Irvine will acquire and archive data from the project and conduct research to enhance the technologies that will be used in similar applications in the future.
“SCE is pleased to support this innovative community microgrid project and looks forward to supporting others in the future,” said Katie Sloan, SCE vice president of Customer Programs and Services. “Microgrids can provide resiliency benefits for our customers and help integrate new grid technologies into new community developments.”
In addition to microgrid and battery storage capabilities, the new homes include technology and design that will reduce energy usage, and a combination of features to lower homebuyers’ carbon footprints and conserve precious natural resources, including water.
“With this project, we are taking a large leap toward creating communities from the ground up that produce sustainable and affordable energy and are resilient to the impacts of climate change on our grid,” said Matt Brost, vice president of sales, New Homes, at SunPower. “We are thrilled to leverage our learnings from this project to influence continued innovation in homebuilding.”
“Working with industry and academic leaders, we plan to explore how these energy-smart connected communities can help protect the environment and turn homes into power centers. These self-powered homes are designed to deliver resiliency while also reducing the overall cost of long-term homeownership,” said Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home’s chairman, president and CEO.
To learn more about SCE's commitment to a clean energy future, visit edison.com/clean-energy.
PHOTO CREDIT: PAUL GRIFFO