Artist Graphic of Community Microgrid, Creative Commons

Oakmont: A Microgrid in Your Future?

            If plans continue on track for Oakmont Energy Resiliency Committee (OERC), homeowners will have an opportunity within a few years to receive their electricity from an Oakmont Community Microgrid (OCM) that provides residents with an uninterruptible source of energy, the ability to recover from power outages within moments and protection against escalating energy costs. 

            That’s the vision Committee Chair Ken Smith shared with a packed room at the East Recreation Center Nov. 8.  He reported that OVA’s application to PG&E’s Community Microgrid Enablement Program has been accepted and the committee has been assigned a technical advisor who will be reviewing on-going plans and designs. OERC also is in contact with potential financing organizations that install, own, operate and maintain equipment and is working with State Sen. Mike McGuire to qualify for assistance from the California Office of Emergency Management Services.

            OVA President Tom Kendrick said “Further expanding creation of green, local power is an important goal for Oakmont, both to minimize power disruptions – especially for members of our community who depend on medical equipment – and to ensure sustainable, cost-effective electricity for our future.”

            The creation of an Oakmont microgrid is the final goal of the OERC which began planning for solar PV panels in July 2019 and installed them in 2020 in parking lots in the Central complex and at the East and West recreation centers. The panels are expected to generate a savings for OVA of $13,500 in the first year. Also installed was a backup diesel generator to serve Berger, the CAC and OVA’s maintenance department.

            Continuing its work with Kenwood Energy consultants, the OERC has identified two possible locations for the installation of 11,000 solarphotovoltaic panels.  One location is across from the Community Garden on Stone Bridge Road and the other is adjacent to Highway 12, parallel with Meadowridge Drive. 

            The current model of the OCM is to connect every electric consumer in Oakmont to the microgrid through the existing interconnection meters at the PG&E service entrances to all residences and businesses. 

            “Since the OCM would be connected to the existing PG&E wiring and all the circuit wiring in Oakmont connected to create the microgrid, all meters would be automatically “opted in,” Smith said in an interview after the presentation. He added that the OCM fee structure would be a flat fee based on historic use of the customer at each meter and include predetermined escalation rates tied to the economy and equipment financing. An estimated total savings of $540,000 is projected to be generated to users during the first year of operation. 

            Also represented at the presentation via Zoom were other collaborators, including Geof Syphers of Sonoma Clean Power and Woody Hastings of The Climate Center as well as interested Oakmont residents. Chris Sork who has two Tesla Power walls at his Oakmont home asked how he might share the energy he generates with other homes. Residents who have leased solar panels on their roofs were advised to see if their contracts permit transfers or purchase of equipment.              “It’s past time for Oakmont to decrease its carbon footprint and reduce the disastrous effects of climate change while better equipping the future stewards of the environment for our descendants,” Smith said when asked what he most wanted attendees to take away from the presentation. To contact the OERC,