Going Solar in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) – a PG&E Pilot Project at Pepperwood

A Remote Grid uses a Standalone Power System to provide power to folks living and working in less-populated, high-fire threat areas. These systems combine solar power, batteries, and fuel-powered generators to provide people with safe, clean, continuous electric service. Such grids allow people living in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) to disconnect from power lines without losing access to electricity.

In Sonoma County, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PGE), is piloting a Remote Grid at Pepperwood’s Bechtel House. This is a pilot project entirely financed by PGE to test the feasibility of this type of project to eliminate above ground power lines and the maintenance and fire hazard that they pose.

Construction started in May and was recently completed. There is, however, a long testing period, which means that the system won’t be fully operational until September. The system entails a solar carport in the parking area and a shipping containter at the north end of the parking area that houses batteries and equipment. The solar carport will provide 100% of the Bechtel House’s electrical demand, and the battery system will serve as a back-up. PGE is maintaining the system, and Pepperwood will continue to purchase electricity from PGE. With successful implementation, the power lines that run between the Bechtel House and Franz Valley Rd. will be removed.

PGE worked with Box Power to install the Remote Grid. BoxPower provides turnkey engineering, construction, and management services. Their ecosystem of software and hardware solutions optimize the performance and accelerate the deployment of solar plus storage microgrids.

We’ll keep you posted with updates on this pilot project. In the meantime, enjoy the photo gallery!

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