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, due to limited budgets schools are searching for new ways to reduce the utility costs of a traditional solar-only school. Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) has selected Extensible Energy and Community Energy Labs (CEL) for an SVCE Innovation Onramp grant. The pilot program will demonstrate how advanced load flexibility software can enable a solar-powered school to further reduce its current energy costs and optimize the design for a future energy storage project. Completed successfully, the program can become a national model for solar schools wishing to increase utility savings and reduce the cost of becoming neighborhood resiliency centers.
The SVCE Innovation Onramp grant will provide funds to transform a traditional solar school into a “smart and resilient” solar school through adding Extensible Energy’s DemandEx load flexibility software integrated with CEL’s community, customer, and user interfaces. After installation, the upgraded school will be able to reshape building loads, increasing cost-effective self-generation while decreasing reliance on the grid. After implementation, the project team expects that the lower demand profile and higher energy efficiency will also enable schools to add a smaller and more cost-effective energy storage system to remain resilient.
“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. Only then can you design the most cost-effective storage system. More importantly, DemandEx load management software and CEL’s customer engagement interfaces increase the school’s energy savings year-round, even before adding a battery for resiliency.”
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. After evaluating and selecting a Santa Clara County school with a solar photovoltaic system, CEL and Extensible Energy will work with the school’s facility managers to install their software and train to utilize the software 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.
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.
— Solar Builder magazine