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Port of San Diego to Install a Solar-Powered Microgrid with $5 Million Grant from California Energy Commission

  |   Smart Grid, Solar Energy

As an environmental champion and mover of goods throughout the world, the Port of San Diego — a longtime active member of Cleantech San Diego — has secured a nearly $5 million grant for the installation of a renewable, solar-powered microgrid at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, one of the Port’s two marine cargo terminals.
At its meeting on June 12, 2018, the Board of Port Commissioners authorized a grant funding agreement for the microgrid project with the California Energy Commission (CEC). The grant agreement includes $4,985,272 from the CEC, $4,427,973 in matching funds from the Port, and an additional $201,963 in matching funds from the University of California San Diego, a partner with the Port on this project. The total cost of the project is anticipated to be approximately $9,600,000.
“This is an all-around great project for the community, for the businesses that operate on the terminal, and for the Port,” said Chairman Rafael Castellanos, Board of Port Commissioners. “It means cleaner air for our neighbors, will provide a reliable, safe and resilient power source for terminal and Port operations, and provides significant cost savings.”
Solar photovoltaic panels will power the microgrid, which will also include battery energy storage, efficiency improvements, electrical infrastructure improvements, and a centralized microgrid controller. The microgrid will help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, save the Port an estimated $168,000, or 60 percent, per year over current utility rates, and enable the operation of critical terminal infrastructure for approximately 12 hours without being connected to the larger electrical grid.
The microgrid, which is anticipated to be installed in spring 2020, will provide back-up power to Port-operated facilities, including security infrastructure, lights, offices, and the existing jet fuel storage system, in support of the Port’s role as a Department of Defense Strategic Port. As one of 17 designated U.S. Strategic Ports, the Port of San Diego stands ready to support military deployment activities.
The Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal specializes in break-bulk, refrigerated, and dry bulk cargo. The microgrid project satisfies a portion of the mitigation requirements for renewable energy identified in the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Redevelopment Plan. Phase 1 of the redevelopment, known as the Modernization Project, is underway and will make the terminal more modern, clean and efficient. The microgrid will also help the Port meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals as established in its Climate Action Plan.
About the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Redevelopment Plan:
As part of Port of San Diego Maritime, the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal Redevelopment Plan supports the Port’s specialty cargo advantage by providing laydown space and flexibility for each cargo type. The plan envisions three distinct cargo nodes within the existing footprint of the terminal and is focused on current core specialties of:

  • Project, roll-on/roll-off, and break-bulk cargo such as military equipment, wind energy parts, shipbuilding steel, and vehicles;
  • Refrigerated containers for fresh produce such as bananas or other produce; and
  • Dry bulk cargo such as soda ash, aggregate and cement, used primarily in construction.


About the CEC grant:
The grant is part of the CEC’s Business Case Demonstration for Advanced Microgrids program, which aims to advance California’s energy and greenhouse gas policies in four key areas:

  • Electrification: Improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Resiliency: Demonstrate a reliable, resilient and safe system.
  • Technological Advancement: Provide technological advancement and breakthroughs to achieve the state’s statutory energy goals.
  • Replicability: Develop a model that can be utilized in other locations.


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