DTECH Initiate startups team up to make California school more ‘smart and resilient.

Illustration credit children’s author Molly Bang

Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) has selected Extensible Energy and Community Energy Labs (CEL) for an SVCE Innovation Onramp grant. Both Extensible Energy and CEL have participated in the DISTRIBUTECH Initiate! program, which gives energy startups the ability to present their companies to the utility industry.

Through the grant, Extensible Energy and Community Energy Labs will demonstrate that load management technology can reduce electricity costs and enable schools to cost-effectively install battery back-up and serve as community resilience centers.

How it works

In Santa Clara County and across the nation, K-12 solar-powered schools are being affected by grid instability; many are planning to add energy storage for resiliency. However, schools have limited budgets and certainly don’t want to overspend on a battery that won’t fit their needs.  

The grant will provide funds to transform the building into a “smart and resilient” solar school through the use of Extensible Energy’s DemandEx load flexibility software and CEL’s community, customer, and user interfaces. After installation, the school will be able to reshape building loads, increasing cost-effective self-generation while decreasing reliance on the grid, said the companies.

The project team expects that the lower demand profile and higher energy efficiency will enable the school to add a small, cost-effective energy storage system for resiliency purposes. 

“Even in non-pandemic times, schools can’t afford to purchase more battery power than they need for resiliency,” said John Powers, CEO of Extensible Energy. “So, the first step for designing the right-size battery is to intelligently control and reduce the school campus loads.”

After they select a school for the implementation, CEL and Extensible Energy will install the software and train the facility managers to use the system for increased energy efficiency.

“In the short term, the selected school and community will benefit from lower utility bills and emitting lower greenhouse-gas emissions. In the long term, schools throughout SVCE’s constituent communities and beyond will be able to lower their future cost of becoming resiliency centers with a properly sized energy storage system,” said Tanya Barham, CEO of CEL.

Turning schools into resilient community centers

Upon successful completion of this project, SVCE plans to continue its sustainability commitment by creating new incentive programs in collaboration with school districts that will encourage the use of load flexibility software and storage for islanding and resiliency during potential blackouts.

“We’re excited to be working with CEL and Extensible Energy on this pilot program for increasing sustainability and cost savings for our community’s school districts. We hope this program can be a model for school districts across the U.S. who are implementing solar, energy efficiency, and energy storage for resiliency,” said Girish Balachandran, CEO of SVCE.

 The project team will be leading a series of workshops for schools and colleges in Santa Clara County that are interested in clean energy and resiliency for their schools and buildings.

DISTRIBUTECH International and POWERGEN International showcase energy startups each year through Initiate!, the Clarion Energy start-up challenge.

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