Photo credit: Fernando Tomás/ Wiki Commons

San Diego Gas & Electric announced Tuesday that a $5 million state grant will allow the utility to expand a solar-powered microgrid in the desert to provide for all of the electricity needs in Borrego Springs.

The funding from the California Energy Commission will allow the utility to make the Borrego Springs microgrid one of the largest in the country that relies solely on renewable energy.

“This funding will create a true renewable energy microgrid, one that not only bolsters local electric reliability, but does so by using the cleanest resources available,” said James Avery, SDG&E’s senior vice president for power supply.

“This project combines our core priorities of enhancing reliability, promoting innovation and connecting to more clean energy, and we greatly appreciate the CEC’s support in making this happen,” he said.

The microgrid is connected to the region’s main energy grid, but can disconnect and function independently during emergencies, supplying vital electricity to the local community through its onsite resources, according to SDG&E.

The utility said the microgrid has already kept electricity flowing to the community during several power outages, demonstrating its potential to benefit all customers.

The microgrid is currently served by a 26-megawatt solar facility that will be made larger in order to serve the entire community during the day. Large batteries will fill in at night or when it’s cloudy, according to SDG&E.

SDG&E will increase the number of customers served by the microgrid from the current 1,000 to all 2,800 in Borrego Springs when the expansion is completed in the middle of next year.

Separately, the utility announced it will establish a $2 million endowment fund to benefit operations and environmental education programs at the Living Coast Discovery Center on San Diego Bay. The endowment was a condition of the California Coastal Commission’s approval of relocating a power plant in the South Bay.

Details are scheduled to be announced at a Wednesday news conference.

— City News Service

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