The projects will promote investment in renewable energy infrastructure that will create jobs, help communities provide long-term renewable energy and save money for consumers. They will also serve as models for other local governments, campuses or small utilities to replicate, allowing other communities to design renewable energy projects that fit their individual size and energy demands.
“Smaller, more localised renewable energy systems need to play a role in our comprehensive energy portfolio,” says energy secretary Steven Chu. “These projects will help create jobs, expand our clean energy economy, and help us cut carbon pollution at the local level.”
The five projects will be leveraged with US$167m in funds from local government and private industry. The Department of Energy (DoE) estimates that the projects will provide renewable energy for 10,700 homes.
DoE funding will include:
- US$8m to the city of Montpelier (Vermont) to support installation of a 41 MMBtu combined heat & power (CHP) district energy system fuelled with local renewable wood chips. The system will provide heating to 176 state buildings in the downtown district, with 1.8m ft2 of floorspace. By providing 1.8 GWh of electricity to the grid, the system will maximise operating efficiency and reduce thermal costs in the community. Montpelier will conduct outreach to encourage replication regionally and nationally through its project partners, the Biomass Energy Resource Center, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and Veolia Energy North America.
- US$5m to Sacramento Municipal Utility District (California) to install the state's first ‘Solar Highway’ that will include 1.5 MW of solar capacity along highway right-of-ways (300 kW of concentrating PV, and 400 and 800 kW of flat plate PV). SMUD will also install a full scale co-digestion process for fats, oil and grease (FOG) and liquid food processing waste with sewage, that will produce 3 MW of biogas, install two low-NOx anaerobic digesters fed by dairy facilities to produce 500 kW of cogeneration, and generate 600 kW of electricity through a molten carbonate fuel cell. The projects will demonstrate that solar PV and anaerobic digesters can be readily implemented through collaborative partnerships, and avoid siting issues and transmission constraints that pose barriers to renewable energy capacity additions.
- US$2.5m to the Forest County Potawatomi Tribe (Wisconsin) to implement an integrated renewable energy deployment plan that will provide heating, cooling and electricity for the Tribe's governmental buildings. The renewable energy installations will include a 1.25 MW biomass CHP facility, a biogas digester, three 100 kW wind turbines and three dual-axis 2.88 kW solar PV panels (generating 788.4 MWh/a and 14 MWh/a respectively).
- US$2.5m to Phillips County (Colorado) for a community-owned 30 MW wind energy project with an ultimate goal to build a 650 MW wind farm in the northeastern region.
- US$2.5m to the University of California at Davis (California) for a waste-to-renewable energy (WTRE) system in a campus mixed housing and commercial development. The system will generate power from a biogas fuel cell. Sited near the WTRE system within a Community Energy Park will be an advanced storage battery and a 300 kW fuel cell that uses the on-site biogas and generates electricity.