Ribbon cutting for microgrid
Ribbon cutting for the microgrid serving the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians tribal government complex. Photo courtesy of Gridscape

Lots of clean energy developments in the San Diego region this past week.

Leaders from the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians have commissioned a new microgrid to serve the tribal government complex in Valley Center.

A microgrid is defined as a self-contained power system that supplies electricity to a specific geographic area, such as a college campus, medical complex, shopping mall or, in this case, tribal areas, when the main sources of power are disrupted by storms and other natural disasters.

The grid has “control capability,” which means it can disconnect from the larger power grid and operate on its own to generate needed power for emergency services such as police and fire.

One or more types of distributed energy, such as solar, wind, cogeneration and generators, generate electric power within a microgrid. The latest microgrids now have batteries to store electricity for emergency use.

When the power goes down, the new microgrid will power the tribal lands from a combination of solar production and energy stored in the system’s batteries.

Gridscape, which has offices in Fremont as well as the U.K. and India, installed the grid system. Officials said the equipment can generate 90% of the power needed from grid energy, which can lower costs as well as provide clean backup power.

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The city of San Diego, which is installing eight microgrids, including at one fire station and three police stations, said its systems will help decrease electricity use 25% from 2010 levels by 2035. The solar emergency microgrids to be installed in the city are financed and owned by Shell New Energies.

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San Diego-based EDF Renewables North America said it has been awarded three contracts that will generate a total of 1 gigawatt of solar power for delivery of clean energy for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

Stephane Desdunes, an executive for EDF’s Northeast Region, said, “With more than 1,000 MW of solar and storage projects still in the development pipeline, EDF Renewables looks forward to working side by side with NYSERDA and New York State to achieve the 70% by 2030 goal and deliver clean energy to the residents of New York.”

EDF is an independent power producer with 35 years of expertise in renewable energy, according to a press statement. 

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San Diego’s California American Water has announced the Highland Tank Conduit-Hydro Clean Energy Project, a clean energy recovery infrastructure effort with New York-based Rentricity.

Sponsored by the state Public Utilities Commission, the project aims to help modernize pressure regulation infrastructure. When complete the system will generate between 75 and 125 kilowatts of power a day.

Rentricity’s technology captures excess pressure and flow within gravity-fed water distribution pipelines, which is converted into clean energy for the power grid or at the customer’s site.

California American Water’s Highland Tank here in San Diego, to be retrofitted with two generator turbines, is certified for safe-drinking water and will maximize annual power generation over daily and seasonal cycles.

California American Water, a subsidiary of New Jersey-based American Water, provides reliable water and wastewater services to more than 725,000 users.

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Jennie Brooks, a top executive in the local office of corporate business consultant Booz Allen Hamilton, took the reigns as chair of the board for the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.

Jennie Brooks

The EDC is the local nonprofit organization “that mobilizes government and civic leaders around an inclusive economic development strategy in order to connect data to decision making, maximize regional prosperity, enhance global competitiveness and position San Diego effectively for investment and talent.”

The group says its 200 members range from startups like SkySafe to the largest employers like Qualcomm and SDG&E

“As a senior leader of a major consulting and technology employer in San Diego, Jennie is perfectly positioned to lead EDC in this unique moment in time,” said Mark Cafferty, the top executive at the EDC. “With a pandemic still not behind us, Jennie’s leadership, commitment, and deep understanding of San Diego’s strengths and opportunities are exactly what the organization needs as we continue to make the business case for inclusion.”

Four officers will support Brooks in her role as chair: Rob Douglas, an executive at ResMed; Lisette Islas, an executive at MAAC; Tom Seidler, an executive for the San Diego Padres; and Barbara Wight, an executive at Taylor Guitars.

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San Diego dodges a bullet when it comes to a recent decline in the sale of luxury U.S. homes, according to a recent analysis by online residential real estate broker Redfin.

According to the analysis, national luxury sales fell almost 18% year-over-year during the three months ending April 30, the largest drop since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic rattled the housing market.

But the median sale price of luxury homes here gained 31% for the year!

The luxury market is cooling nationwide as climbing interest rates, the falling stock market, inflation and economic certainty contribute to a drop in demand, Redfin said.

“Luxury-sales growth began to slow in the spring and summer of 2021 amid an extreme shortage of high-end properties for sale, which restricted how many homes could be sold. Although the inventory crunch has started to ease, the shortage of luxury homes on the market is still likely contributing to the drop in luxury sales,” according to a news release.

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Another real estate-related item worth mentioning…San Diego is America’s finest city; we all know that. Now comes a bit of validation, from apartment rental website RentCafe.

According to the newest ranking compiled by RentCafe using 17 measures, we’re No. 50 on a list of the top 50 places to rent in the nation. That’s kind of low, but we were the only community in California to make this list.

We have the 4th overall best quality of life, thanks to ranking third in schooling nationwide, as well ranking third when it comes to recreational amenities residents have access to. Moreover, a large number of apartments can be found in top locations, close to shopping centers with easy to access by public transportation or private car.

Some more points…the San Diego economy is one of the most competitive in the U.S., and it offers the eighth highest level of income and seventh highest level in job growth opportunities.

While San Diego is dead last on the list of the top 50 cities for renters because of the prohibitive cost of living, it compensates with a spacious average apartment size of 856 square feet — with high-end units accounting for more than half of the city’s entire housing stock.

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Finally, these two life science items of note…Entos Pharmaceuticals recently held a grand opening for its its new collaborative life sciences research facility, with office and lab space, in Torrey Pines. Headquartered in Canada, Entos says it is developing genetic medicines directly targeting the cell. The company recently entered into a major deal with Eli Lilly and Co. to support development of genetic therapies for multiple neurologic indications.

Meanwhile, another local anti-cancer biotech, San Diego-based Artiva Biotherapeutics, which is seeking to develop, natural killer cell therapies that are safe and accessible to cancer patients, recently opened its U.S. corporate offices and lab space here. The 52,000-square-foot facility will include a multi-suite cell-production center to support the company’s product development pipeline.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.