San Diego Utility, California and federal Firefighters welcome new Battery-Storage Microgrid for Backup Power

April 18, 2022
Ramona is one of four microgrids planned within the High Fire Threat District aimed at protecting rural southern California communities. California wildfires have caused close to $100 billion in real damages since 2017

A new microgrid completed by San Diego Gas & Electric will help aerial firefighters stay ahead of and above high-level blaze dangers.

SDG&E has finished work on the 100-percent battery-storage microgrid. The facility provides backup power to the Ramona Air Attack Base, home to CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service’s aerial firefighting units.

Ramona is one of four microgrids planned within the High Fire Threat District aimed at protecting rural southern California communities. California wildfires have caused close to $100 billion in real damages since 2017, according to reports.

“As climate conditions continue to worsen, it’s imperative that we develop innovative solutions to support the continuity of essential resources, particularly our region’s emergency response resources, so they are ready for deployment at any moment,” said SDG&E CEO Caroline Winn. “The completion of the Ramona microgrid is a milestone in our ongoing partnership with CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service as we work to make our electric system safer, cleaner and more reliable.”

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The Ramona grid is powered completely by 500-kW/2,000-KWh in battery storage capacity. It can be utilized to keep critical facilities energized when utilities undertake public safety power shutoffs (PSPS)—such as de-energizing certain transmission and distribution line systems—during periods of high wildfire risk.

“The U.S. Forest Service depends on the Ramona Air Attack Base to protect communities within and adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest,” said Scott Tangenberg, U.S. Forest Service Supervisor.  “The ability to use aircraft to help suppress catastrophic wildfires is a critical tool in our fire suppression toolbox.”

CAL FIRE staffs the Ramona Air Attack Base year-round with one OV-10A Bronco tactical aircraft and two S-2T airtankers. These aircraft support wildland fire suppression locally and can be requested to assist with fires throughout California. Additionally, the base houses the U.S. Forest Service’s Bell 205 A++ helicopter and crew.

Mission-critical entities within the state of California are increasingly turning to microgrids which can operate independently of the main utility systems. These microgrids can offer both emissions reduction and energy resiliency services.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]).

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