Climate Action and Resiliency

Make Sonoma County carbon neutral by 2030.

Goal 2, Objective 1

Support carbon-eliminating microgrid technology in communities and energy grid resilience to reduce the impact of power loss during power shutdowns and natural disasters (floods, fires, earthquakes) through education and legislative advocacy, prioritizing critical infrastructure and vulnerable populations.

On Track

Updated: January 2024

Summary of objective implementation status (achievements or progress over last year; significant delays or issues, etc.)

Our approach to implementation will help achieve the pillar goal by increasing community resiliency against disasters and public safety power shutoff (PSPS) events. As a matter of supporting the community in this effort, there may be legislative efforts to support or sponsor legislation and/or comments in regulatory rulemaking or hearings. This would entail identifying legislative asks, drafting legislative language to present to our legislators, and monitoring the legislative process.

Exploring funding opportunities constitutes the majority of progress made towards the achievement of this goal to date. The Climate Action and Resiliency Division (CARD) has applied for a planning grant to determine feasibility of community microgrids in different territories throughout the County. CARD also remains in communication with program administrators for the recently funded Microgrid Incentive Program (MIP).

Key milestone update (include relevant metrics, if applicable)

In August of 2023, the County of Sonoma submitted in partnership with the Regional Climate Protection Authority and multiple jurisdictions throughout Sonoma County a preliminary application for the Regional Resiliency Planning and Implementation Grant, a grant offered through the California State Governor’s Office. The Resilient Sonoma: Regional Microgrid Strategy is a feasibility study focused on enhancing local energy resilience in Sonoma County against climate-driven disasters. The project explores the viability of microgrid installations using the framework from the 2023 National Renewable Energy Laboratory report. Strategies include energy storage, power generation, resilience hubs, and electric transportation, aligning with local and state plans. The project targets the entire county population, with a focus on vulnerable communities, aiming to reduce risks during emergencies and ensure equitable access to essential services. Short-term outcomes involve completing a feasibility study and identifying vulnerable communities. Long-term goals include understanding optimal microgrid placement, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, installing microgrids for immediate backup power and enhancing county capacity to respond to climate change. The project emphasizes collaboration with communities, stakeholders, and community-based organizations to address local needs and priorities. This grant has not yet been awarded.

In October of 2023, The Climate Action and Resiliency Division, in collaboration with Sonoma Public Infrastructure, presented an energy project to the County Board of Supervisors to be completed at the Santa Rosa Veterans Hall. This project includes the installation of a solar electric system coupled with a backup energy storage system capable of sustaining the facility in the case of a prolonged power outage. This project demonstrates direct action towards the adoption of microgrid technologies and is expected to complete in late 2024.

Coordination and partnership update

Through partnership with the County’s Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) utility, Sonoma Clean Power, the County continues to support efforts to increase local resilience with Public Safety Power Shutoffs through backup power, microgrids, and Community Choice programs.

The County supports this effort in their Legislative Platform document. Under State items, S48: Community Choice Aggregation, the County lists several actions, including continued support of community microgrids.

As previously mentioned, the County collaborates with the Regional Climate Protection Authority as well as the other Sonoma County Jurisdictions to seek funding opportunities aligned with evaluating Community Microgrid opportunities throughout Sonoma County.

Community, equity and climate update

Legislation easing the adoption and implementation of community microgrids remains minimal, however the California Public Utilities Commission approved rules for the Microgrid Incentive Program (MIP) through the investor-owned utilities in April of 2023. This provided Pacific Gas and Electric Co. with $79.2 million available for incentives to support the development of community microgrids in disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, as well as tribal communities, who have experienced and are likely to experience power outages.

In conjunction with the previously filed application for the Regional Resiliency Planning and Implementation Grant, the Climate Action and Resiliency Division hopes to leverage available funds to ease and assist in the adoption of community microgrids and microgrid technologies in the coming months.

Funding narrative (If this objective received Strategic Plan funding in year 1 or year 2, please provide a status of expenditures to date.)

Beyond previously mentioned grant and incentive dollars, funding is available for staff efforts related to legislative or rulemaking support. The County will consider any additional grant opportunities that require local government support or partnership related to community microgrids, however, funding may be needed for staff time to take on the effort of submitting grant opportunities. Energy and Sustainability may have access to funding for researching or writing grant opportunities through the Climate Action and Resiliency Division.