MCAS Miramar microgrid operational; able to deliver 100% resilient power

The site testing team in front of the microgrid powerplant after successful black start tests at Marine Corps Air station Miramar, June 20, 2020.

Schneider Electric and Black & Veatch today announced the completion of a microgrid system they jointly designed and constructed for the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, in San Diego, California. The microgrid is online, fully operational and has been proven to provide 100 percent capability – even in the event of power outages – across the facility’s more than 100 mission critical buildings, including its entire flight line.

“This microgrid makes MCAS Miramar one of the most sustainable and energy secure facilities in the Department of Defense and plays a key role in helping California reach its clean energy goals,” said Mark Feasel, North American President of Smart Grids at Schneider Electric.

MCAS Miramar conducted its first full-scale Energy Resilience Readiness Exercise to assess resilience and reliability of the microgrid system, and whether it could keep operations up and running at full operational loads. During a full-day simulated power outage, the microgrid system completely disconnected from the grid and all operations were successfully carried out throughout its critical buildings and flight line.

Similarly, the microgrid performed as designed twice in the fall of 2020, as it dispatched in support of the local utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) when it was struggling to fulfill peak loads. During Public Safety Power Shutoffs in California, the operation of the Miramar microgrid allowed SDG&E to maintain electrical service to thousands of homes that would have otherwise been curtailed.

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“This microgrid system not only strengthens resilience with the ability to support our station with energy for up to 14 days, but it’s enabling us to significantly lower emissions,” said Mick Wasco, Installation Energy Manager at MCAS Miramar. “We’re excited to take this major step integrating renewable energy into our mission and making MCAS Miramar one of the most energy resilient defense facilities in the nation.”

In addition to the buildout of a new diesel and natural gas power plant, this project also includes construction of an advanced Energy and Water Operations Center (EWOC). The microgrid is operated directly out of the air station’s EWOC, where plant managers have direct visibility of the integrated microgrid control system, which utilizes Schneider Electric’s SCADA software and a certified network to connect field devices into the system. The applications that form the advanced microgrid control system, such as real-time monitoring and optimization, provide economic generation and load balance while maintaining system stability through load/frequency and voltage/VAR controls.

“Because energy resilience and reliability play such vital roles to our nation’s security and military preparedness, making this mission-critical project a reality helps to ensure the energy security of MCAS Miramar for years to come,” said Scott Kinner, Vice President of Black & Veatch’s federal business. “The collaboration with Schneider Electric and other stakeholders in this effort highlighted our extensive expertise in power generation and distributed infrastructure delivery as well as MCAS clear commitment to a more sustainable energy future.”

In 2016, Black & Veatch and Schneider Electric were selected to construct a microgrid at MCAS Miramar, bringing together an industry-leading portfolio of expertise, equipment and service to develop and operate a state-of-the-art microgrid. The system provides power to critical base loads, while cutting energy costs by using renewables and natural gas to lessen the base load, reduce energy demand and peak shave. In February 2019, Schneider Electric announced the expansion of the microgrid project at MCAS Miramar to further boost resilience. Supported by a $5 million California Energy Commission (CEC) Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) grant, the next phase of the project will add an energy storage system and integrate demand side management.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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