A longtime self-sustaining native community in California is moving forward with a project to better secure its own energy needs, too.
The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians is partnering with Scale Microgrids on installing on-site power, distributed energy resources within the tribal land. The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians are based in San Jacinto.
The tribe’s 474,000-square-foot casino, hotel and golf course will be supported and offset its power consumption with the microgrid. The project will include 1.5 MW of rooftop solar and a 6-MWh energy storage system.
Scale will handle both on-site and remote monitoring of the microgrid to ensure energy resiliency all day, every day. The DERs also will help reduce negative financial impacts from higher service costs, interconnection fees and blackouts or brownouts.
The microgrid also will serve to power an emergency cooling center in the event of a community-wide power outage.
"This project serves our mission to strengthen our tribe’s sovereignty, self-sufficiency, and prosperity,” says a statement from Soboba’s Tribal Council. “We are responsible for helping our people and our land thrive for generations to come, and we believe this microgrid system is an important step towards advancing our objectives."
The Soboba Casino Resort microgrid will work in energy savings mode when the utility is available and will also back up the facility for short-term and long-term outages.
In addition to designing the microgrid system for the facility’s specific needs, Scale’s development team secured funding from California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) and the Direct Pay Investment Tax Credit for tribes to fund more than half of the project costs.
The casino is the biggest source of income for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.
“America’s energy transition must include tribal lands,” says Ryan Goodman, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Scale Microgrids. “As we work towards our mission of powering the world with distributed energy, we are committed to leading the way for equal access and economic equality.”
Three years ago, the tribe contracted with Grid Alternatives to design and construct a battery storage-based microgrid to support the Soboba Band’s fire station.
Scale Microgrid also is working on taking a deeper commitment into supply Indian lands with renewable energies and resilient backup power systems. The company is partnering with Chris Deschene, recently Director of the Office of Indian Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy.
DeSchene’s experience and knowledge as a former general counsel to tribes and assisted both Scale and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians in this development deal.
Scale Microgrids is stepping up its project development efforts. The company recently closed on a new $225 million debt facility to expand its reach.
Private equity firm Warburg Pincus initially seeded Scale Microgrids with a $300 million line of equity commitment in late 2019. Since then, the firm has worked to deliver microgrid and on-site power projects for the agricultural industry, water infrastructure, manufacturing, universities and distribution facilities.
In other reports, forecasters have predicted that the value of the global microgrid market could more than triple over 10 years to $60 billion by 2030. Commercial, industrial and mission critical customers are seeking utility help or moving beyond utilities to secure power resiliency in the face of climate disasters and grid delivery challenges.
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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 15-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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