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New Projects in Renewable Energy and Community Resiliency

The systems will also provide numerous economic benefits

The City of Boulder and community partners, including the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder), Boulder County, Via Mobility Services (Via) and Boulder Housing Partners (BHP), recently completed the installation of several energy resilience projects that enable critical community and university services to maintain operations during unexpected events, such as a major grid outage. Components of this work include installations at Via to power their building and their incoming electric transportation fleet, and solar panels, back-up battery storage and a generator at BHP, the primary affordable housing provider in Boulder. In addition to maintaining power to critical systems in times of emergency or grid outage, the systems provide numerous economic benefits and add to the city’s local generation goal of 100 megawatts by 2030 through the installation of approximately 31 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar.

“We are excited to work with our community partners to develop these ground-breaking energy projects.” said Brett KenCairn, senior environmental planner at the city. “These projects enhance our community’s resilience to disasters and build a foundation for a renewable energy future. They also match the city’s focus on equity as a component of our Climate Commitment, by ensuring that some of the most vulnerable in our community can be served even in times of crisis.”

The energy resilience projects were funded through several sources, including the Department of Energy Resilient Energy Delivery Infrastructure (REDI) grant, the City of Boulder Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program and the Boulder County Worthy Cause Program. A centerpiece of the projects is the installation of solar + battery storage + back-up generation at Via. This approach will enable Via to maintain its critical “second responder” transportation support during emergencies and will provide the foundation for transitioning the city’s HOP bus line to electric buses that will eventually be charged primarily on solar energy.

A similar system was installed at BHP’s main offices, which act as a command post for over 3,000 lower income community residents, many of whom have increased vulnerability to power outages. Between a new battery storage system, photovoltaic solar panels and a generator, the site can be powered during both long and short-term grid outages. The integration, generation and storage assets were supported, installed and integrated by Independent Power Systems, a local company.

The city is also in the process of working with CU to support its efforts to create resilient micro grids on campus that will protect critical research functions from grid disruptions.  The micro grids will be complemented and powered by a network of solar generation and storage assets.

To support others in the community looking to add solar and storage, the city is releasing a Solar+Storage Permitting and Interconnection Guide. The guide provides a pathway for permitting and interconnection of solar and storage systems in Boulder to help residents and businesses through the process on their own projects. It was created in collaboration with Institute for Sustainable Communities and the Clean Energy Group with support from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office through the Solar Market Pathways program.

About the City of Boulder’s Climate Commitment
Boulder City Council adopted the Climate Commitment in December 2016. The Climate Commitment goals call for an 80 percent reduction in communitywide emissions by the year 2050 (compared to the same 2005 baseline used in recent inventories), as well as a switch to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030. These goals recognize both what scientists are saying about the need for immediate action, as well as experiences Boulder has had in recent years with climate change, most notably fires and floods.

For more information about the city’s ongoing climate and energy effort, including Boulder’s Climate Commitment, visit www.BoulderClimate.com.

For more information on the Boulder County Worthy Cause Program, visit https://www.bouldercounty.org/government/your-taxes-at-work/worthy-cause-sales-tax/.

For more information on the City of Boulder Community Development Block Grant Program, visit https://bouldercolorado.gov/housing/community-development-block-grant-cdbg-program.

Published: Oct. 16, 2018

Media Contacts:
Alexis Bullen, Climate + Sustainability Communications, 303-441-1878
Lex Telischak, Electrical Engineer, 303-441-3442
BoulderColorado.gov