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City Manager's Office
Press Contact: Matthai Chakko, (510) 981-7008

Clean energy would provide emergency backup for City buildings

Berkeley, California (Tuesday, July 12, 2016) - The City of Berkeley is designing a microgrid to provide power from clean energy sources to key downtown facilities for daily use as well as when power is disrupted.

Funded with a $1.5 million grant from the California Energy Commission, the proposed microgrid would create electricity from solar panels atop the new Center Street Garage, and store the power in energy storage batteries that could be used for the garage or as clean backup energy to neighboring key buildings, such as City Hall and the Public Safety Building.

The microgrid would increase Berkeley's resilience by leaving critical buildings less vulnerable to outages, while also transitioning away from the fossil fuel-based electricity that contributes to climate change. The City also provides a number of resources to homeowners and residents to transition to clean power.

Combining solar energy and battery storage not only would power buildings and electric vehicle chargers in the new garage, the new system could also help the City save money daily on energy during peak demand, when prices escalate.

The goal is to create a design that could be replicated and scaled to improve energy reliability in public and private buildings in Berkeley and beyond. Once designed by the City and partners like Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the City will pursue grant and other funding opportunities to build and install the new system.

Back-up power is often run on diesel generators, which produce pollution. Clean microgrids create economic, environmental and energy reliability benefits. This project is an important component of implementing Berkeley's recently released Resilience Strategy.

The movement toward clean power is spearheaded by the City's Office of Energy and Sustainable Development, which also provides resources for homeowners and businesses seeking to transition to clean power. Residents or local businesses interested in solar can get a free quick online estimate of their solar potential through the SmartSolar program and use Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to finance their solar installations. In addition, as part of a City of Berkeley program, low-income Berkeley residents can also get job training on how to install solar panel systems and bring solar to low-income homes.


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