The system will be the first of its kind, and with the potential to double the efficiency of biomass-to-power generation, the company claims. The fuel cell system will be integrated with a “biomass gasifier and syngas purification unit to form an integrated biomass-to-fuel cell power solution.”
Well, that’s the engineer-speak, anyway. Engineers are complicated folks. In other words, it will use available biomass to create cheaper, cleaner, and renewable hydrogen gas energy.
The system will convert locally-grown timber –by-product feedstock– into hydrogen-rich syngas, using pyrolysis gasification technology. This syngas will then be purified, resulting in a high quality hydrogen stream, which will be used to power the ClearGen™ fuel cell system.
The fuel cell plant will provide base load power for the Tribe’s commercial enterprises, and by-product heat will be used to warm the swimming pool in an adjacent hotel.
Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe will integrate the ClearGen™ system, biomass gasifier and fuel purification unit with support from the Schatz Energy Research Center(SERC), a research and teaching center affiliated with Humboldt State Uni-
versity’s Environmental Resources Engineering program.
The project is supported by a proposed $1.75 million funding award to the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, a local-government joint powers agency, from the California Energy Commission’s Community Scale Renewable Energy Development Program. The program focuses on technical solutions enabling communities to rely primarily on locally-available renewable resources to provide electricity at competitive rates.
The biomass power system will be sited at the Blue Lake Rancheria and has the potential to double the efficiency of
generating electricity from biomass. SERC will function as
the engineering integrator for the biomass system. SERC
engineers have already pioneered advancements in hydrogen
technology and fuel cells.
We’re eager to work with our partners to bring this system on-line,” said Peter Lehman, Founding Director of SERC. “It will pioneer a new way to make renewable hydrogen available to produce electricity with fuel cells cleanly and efficiently.”
“It is exciting to be making significant progress toward the Tribe’s goal of exceeding California’s renewable energy standards,” commented Jana Ganion, Energy Director for the Blue Lake Rancheria, “and this type of system may fulfill the energy needs of similar communities through local, renewable resources.”
The energy upgrade project component focuses on energy efficiency, solar energy systems, and heat pumps for residences and businesses, training for equipment technicians, and other initiatives for energy conservation throughout the Mad River Valley Community. The electric vehicle component will include installation of two charging stations within the Mad River Valley Community, and monitoring the performance of these stations over the course of one year.
“The Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe is committed to renewable power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the energy efficiency of our facilities,” said Arla Ramsey, the Tribe’s vice chairperson. “Biomass-to-fuel cell power is an excellent match for our community and our region, and we see tremendous potential for deployments beyond our own facilities.”
“Using biomass to produce hydrogen is an important enabler for distributed generation applications,” said Larry Stapleton, Ballard Power System’s Vice President of Sales. “This initial installation will demonstrate a renewable, high efficiency, low emission solution that is cost competitive today in communities relying on diesel generators.”
Ballard Power Systems is a Canadian-based company with production facilities in Mexico. The company, currently trading at $1.20 a share(BLDP), provides clean energy fuel cell products for a broad range of applications.
Renewable energy availability might reduce power plant demand
Staff Report Humboldt Sentinel
A new round of eco-groovy tax credits is in the offing, assuming a bi-partisan bill from the North Coast’s representative makes it through a bitterly divided federal legislature.
HR 4096, known as the STORAGE bill (Storage Technology for Renewable and Green Energy 2012 Act), would provide incentives to individuals and businesses when they invest in energy storage systems — the kinds of devices which keep excess energy generated when energy is in low demand and then supply it when peak demand returns.
According to a press statement from the office of Congressman Mike Thompson (Dem. – St. Helena), the tax credits and subsequent storage device implementation would reduce consumer electric bills, improve alternative energy source reliability and make the entire electric grid more efficient and secure.
“When it comes to addressing American’s energy challenges, we need to use every tool in the box,” Thompson stated. “These tax incentives will move us closer towards energy independence by making our electric grid more reliable, using energy more efficiently, reducing costs and creating jobs.”
Introduced by Thompson and New York Congressman Chris Gibson (Rep. – Kinderbrook), the legislation would hand a 20 percent tax credit to businesses and factories which generate energy via large compressed air systems, flywheels and large arrays of fuel cells and batteries. An even bigger 30 percent credit would go to households and businesses which purchase energy storage systems for their properties.
Companion legislation in the form of S 1845 was introduced in the U.S. Senate last fall by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, New Mexico Democrat Jeff Bingman and Maine Republican Susan Collins. The sponsors point to the presently inefficient alternative energy electricity infrastructure as justification to set up storage systems which can deliver during high demand periods; they hope this reduction in peak stress on the grid will eventually reduce the number of power plants needed.
Cream City’s Council weighs in with their concerns over use of roads
By Skippy Massey
Residents and ranchers alike packed the Ferndale City Hall to voice their increasing disapproval of the Shell Wind Bear River Wind Turbine Project presented by staff from HSU’s Schatz Energy Lab and Shell’s WindEnergy, Inc.
The fourth such meeting held on the controversial project, Shell WindEnergy had asked the Ferndale City Council not to make any decisions at Thursday’s council meeting. Ferndale City staff, however, had previously recommended the council direct Humboldt County officials to ‘re-scope’ the project, asking for updated information from the various agencies involved due to changes made since January’s 2010 original scoping document.
Ferndale Mayor Jeff Farley asked the public to hold back any applause and address questions and issues directly to the council. After the 4-hour meeting concluded, the Ferndale City Council voted unanimously sending two ‘letters of concern’ to the County: asking County officials to reevaluate the project’s scope, and opposing the transport of turbine equipment through Ferndale’s streets.
The council, Farley said, wants the County to take another look at the project’s impact on noise, traffic, air quality, and property values, and to obtain a more detailed evaluation of the costs of decommissioning the wind farm. Farley claims Ferndale hasn’t received answers to these questions, especially how the city will be adversely affected by the large concrete, dump, and water trucks, cranes and other vehicles transporting heavy equipment through the streets of Ferndale to the project’s site on Bear Ridge, 6 miles south of town. Shell representatives visiting the council earlier provided updated information including the potential option of using helicopters to bring in components.
The Ferndale City Council ultimately decided not to oppose the wind turbine project altogether until it reviews the information contained in the environmental impact report to be released this spring.
The Times-Standard quoted Mayor Farley summing up the city councils’ recommendation this way: “We said, ‘no, we’re not going to do that’ because the EIR isn’t out yet and we want more information. At this point, we’re not getting the answers as fast as we want. This isn’t their first rodeo for wind turbines.”
Ferndale City Manager Jay Parrish said most of the council’s concerns involve the impact of transportation, but the city is open to hearing about alternatives. “I think the council in general approves of alternative energy systems, but when it’s in your backyard, you need to look at it real close,” Parrish said.
Shell WindEnergy Response
Pana Ratana, Business Development Advisor for Shell WindEnergy, said that “the company understands the community’s concerns and the council’s wishes to have more information, (but) it’s simply too early for the council to take a position opposing any of the project’s components,” according to the Times-Standard.
“We are disappointed that the city of Ferndale has decided to take any position on the transportation plan at this time. The city council is making a premature decision based largely on incomplete information. We will continue with our plans to host an open house in the spring to provide the latest information and updates,” Ratana said.
The Proposed Project, Plans and Merits
Shell WindEnergy’s project proposes installing approximately 25 wind turbines on private property along Bear River Ridge above Ferndale and Rio Dell, producing 50-75 megawatts of generation capacity– enough renewable electricity to power over 18,000 homes. The project’s boosters claim the wind farm will bring in millions of investment dollars from Shell Wind over the next 20 years, plus 120 full time employees during construction and six to 12 full time employees to maintain the wind farm.
The project’s equipment would be barged into Humboldt Bay, unloaded at a yet-to-be determined offloading site, and trucked down Highway 101. According to the North Coast Journal article by Keith Easthouse, Shell has analyzed five different routes: three going through or near Ferndale, and two going out of Rio Dell. All have their inherent problems. Helicoptering of components to the site is a possible option—but only in part.
It’s expected that large trucks would make 850 trips to deliver components and another 2,500 trucks would be needed for construction. 3 million gallons of water would be needed. Construction vehicles would make 60 round trips daily through Ferndale, as proposed. Five miles of new road would be built for use during construction, along with three weather towers, a power-collection system, a substation and 12 miles of new power lines. The turbine blades are 150 feet long, the towers rising nearly 260 feet tall, and each of the 3 tower pieces, shipped separately, run 85 feet in length. The housing generators at the top of the towers, called nacelles, weigh 40 tons apiece—and would be undeliverable by helicopter due to their immense weight.
Humboldt County Senior Planner John Miller said the County wants Shell to do a more detailed analysis of how the turbine components will be transported to the ridge before completing the draft environmental impact report. “The trucks are fairly long, so they need to narrow down what roads need to be improved,” he said, adding that Pacific Gas and Electric is also involved working on how power will get to the regional grid.
Blight, Environment, and Energy Concerns
Some critics of the project, including residents of Ferndale, believe the project will do nothing to enhance energy availability for Ferndale citizens– and that the presence of windmills will blight the landscape.
Then there are the environmental concerns. According to the Northcoast Environmental Center article by Sarah O’Leary, while the wind turbine generators would produce electrical power with less carbon impact on the atmosphere than fossil fuels, the blades could harm imperiled species, including bats, migrating birds, spotted owls and commuting marbled murrelets.
Just how much renewable energy will be generated by this project and where will it be delivered is another matter to be considered. Jim Zoellick of HSU’s Schatz Energy Center said that the answer is far more complicated than turbines simply generating power for 18,000 homes. “The power generated locally would go into the local grid,” Zoellick said, adding that a complicated accounting process allows different entities to actually receive the credit for the renewable energy.
Zoellick gave the example of the new Blue Lake Biomass Plant, which sells its power to San Diego Gas & Electric. The power is not actually shipped to San Diego, he explained, but that company receives credit to help it meet state requirements for renewable energy generation. Zoellick said that if energy generated by renewable sources – such as wind projects, biomass and even wave energy – should exceed Humboldt County’s needs then the first plant to have output turned down would be PG&E. He noted that climate change is the biggest environmental threat of all. “More than anything, we need energy efficiency and conservation. There are no easy answers and no choices that have no impacts,” Zoellick said.
Shell WindEnergy will finish studying the transportation issues raised by the Ferndale city council and determine whether to proceed with the Bear River Turbine Project—with or without Ferndale’s approval– in the last half of 2012. The project, if given the green light and not hitting further roadblocks, could possibly be finished by 2014 depending how cooperative Ferndale’s residents and city council are in warming up to Shell’s proposed plans of allowing transportation through their town.
They admit, however, that the wind project’s approval ultimately lies within the County’s larger sphere of influence and jurisdiction– and not necessarily the little Victorian village itself.
“We’ve been doing fine since 1854 without Shell,” Ferndale Councilman Ken Mierzwa noted during Thursday’s city council session, voicing his disapproval.
(The Times-Standard, Humboldt Beacon, Ferndale Enterprise, Northcoast Environmental Center, the North Coast Journal, National Wind Watch, Humboldt County Community Services Department and the Humboldt Herald contributed to this report)
Comments from around the local web:
“The wind technology can’t pay for itself. The turbines are subsidized by the government green scam dollars. A natural ridge line will be forever polluted by these turbines. Bird migration will be hindered too. All for a few mags of power. It is not worth the effort. But some workers will have a job and the manufacturer will reap millions in transferred wealth.”
“The wind farm will benefit its landlords. That’s about it. The county has a brand-new gas fueled plant at King Salmon – and its own supply of gas.”
“While the new power plant supplies much of electrical needs the county has (almost) NO redundancy for our electricity and gas demands. The “all our eggs in one basket” approach to energy use seems both foolish and shortsighted. We live in far too volatile and remote an area to get away with that strategy for long.”
“Aren’t these the same people who shout ‘Drill Baby Drill’ when it comes to oil?”
“Everyone that knows anything about birds knows that wind turbines kill thousands of birds. It takes an especially heavy toll on raptors.”
“Just like Walmart: if the people don’t want it, it shouldn’t be forced on them.”
“I prefer wind turbines on a ridge to oil derricks offshore. The turbines of today don’t pose the same danger to birds as the older ones did and certainly not the level of threat posed by oil spills.”
“So where will the First District Supervisor candidates (Annette De Modena and Rex Bohn) fall on this issue? This could become a very interesting discussion.”
“Labeling industrial wind-driven Electricity Generation Installations as farms is a bit misleading. Wind isn’t “farmed”. Corn is farmed. Wind is harnessed and electricity is generated. These installations are power plants with substations. 1-2% of electricity is created from foreign oil (Search it). And to date, coal plants remain online in order to support wind-driven plants coming online with fluctuating supply (search it).”
“The Ferndale City Council Decision was MONUMENTAL. They actually listened to the people who elected them: the people who will be impacted by this project. Thousands and thousands of vehicle trips, (10,000 plus) during the middle of the summer and tourist season traversing the streets of Ferndale. Streets that have clay infrastructure pipes. And streets that certainly were not built to handle 340,000 lb nacelles being transported upon 13 axle, 72 tire, articulated vehicles that require a 40′ clear span to transport certain parts of this project. There is absolutely no benefit to the town of Ferndale except for the bribes Shell WindEnergy offers under the name of a community investment program. But for the general population there are lots of reasons why the citizens of Ferndale overwhelmingly asked its council to say NO TRANSPORTATION thru Ferndale.”
Additional Information about the Bear River Wind Turbine project can be found here:
$12,000 down, $2,500 to go for new dog, handler training
Staff Report Humboldt Sentinel
With Officer Bryon Franco’s K-9 partner Jimi close to retirement, the Eureka Police Department’s K-9 Unit has launched a fundraising campaign to buy another patrol dog. About $12,000 has already been raised to get a new dog and provide training for the handler, but $2,500 more is needed to buy a bullet- and knife-resistant vest to protect the dog. Anyone wishing to contribute may send a check to the EPD K-9 Fund at 604 C Street, Eureka, CA. 95501.
The Eureka Police Department continues to be amazed by the generosity and support shown by our community. A special thanks goes out to the Eureka Police Foundation, which is funded by community support, whose purpose is to assist the Eureka Police Department in obtaining needed equipment and resources. The Department would also like to give recognition to the Eureka Oxygen Company, The Northcoast Employer Advisory Council, and Lithia Dodge of Eureka for their most generous support.
Even individuals and businesses outside of Eureka were major contributors to this important public safety cause. They clearly understand EPD’s K-9 teams are used all over the county to assist other local agencies and not just within the city limits of Eureka. EPD would like to extend our sincerest gratitude toward all those whose generosity and support has made the purchase of a new police K-9 possible.
EPD is still in the fundraising mode for the purchase of a bullet and knife resistant vest to protect the K-9. These cost about $2,500.00. Anyone wishing to contribute may send a check to the “EPD K-9 Fund” at our address (604 C Street, Eureka, CA. 95501).
Congressman Thompson announces new funding from USDA Bioenergy Program
Federal funding is set to help one local firm expand their production of advanced biofuel.
Yokayo Biofuels of Ukiah is to receive more than $24,000 in rural development funds, according to a release today from Congressman Mike Thompson (Dem. – St. Helena).
“Yokayo Biofuels is a model of how green businesses can grow our economy,” Thompson stated. “Not only are biofuels good for our environment, growing the biofuel industry will lessen our dependence on foreign oil and spur green job creation.”
Yokayo uses vegetable oil as feedstock for its biodiesel — a requirement to be eligible under the Bioenerg Program for Advanced Biofuels, which is administered by the USDA. Yokayo also landed a $110,000 grant from the USDA last month for Biodiesel Trans Esterificaiton, which is a process of transforming grease into fuel.
“2010 was a rough year for biodiesel, but thanks to increased funding from government agencies this year, including this grant from the USDA, Yokayo Biofuels has been able to increase its staff from ten to eighteen employees, and is well-positioned to continue growing.” Yokayo CEO Kumar Plocher stated.
Thompson lauded these investments to build a biofuels industry that grows a green economy and reduces the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
As the sun rises over the mountains, a glimmer of light reflects off the Yurok Tribe building in Weitchpec, Calif. The glint of sunlight bounces off an array of new solar panels, recently installed with the help of Humboldt State’s Schatz Energy Research Center—the newest energy project in a partnership that spans over a decade.
The Yurok tribal building in Weitchpec, Calif., is adorned with a new, 15.7-kilowatt solar electric array. The array, installed by local solar experts Roger and his Merry Band of Solar Installers, is one of many projects in more than a decade of collaboration between the Tribe and HSU’s Schatz Lab.
Since 1999, Schatz Lab has worked with the Yurok Tribe on several grants, studies and energy projects to improve sustainability. Past projects have included a fuel-cell system to provide back up power to a radio repeater station, a feasibility study for hydroelectric and wind energy development and energy audits of over fifty tribal households and multiple government buildings.
Most recently, local solar experts, Roger and his Merry Band of Solar Installers, outfitted the Tribe with a solar electric system. The Tribe also performed energy efficiency upgrades in its Weitchpec tribal office and is working to install energy efficiency upgrades at its Klamath office.
“Stewardship is a huge element of tribal culture,” says Sophia Lay, a tribal planner and the project manager for this undertaking. “The key elements here were to be more sustainable and to lower our energy use.”
Funding for the projects came from the Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Originally, that funding was to be used to conduct a retro-commissioning study for the Klamath office, install a solar panel system and enact certain retrofit projects. Retro-commissioning studies are used to identify existing structures and systems that could be altered to improve energy use. However, from 2005 to 2007, the Tribe and Schatz Lab had already performed an energy-needs assessment to identify such opportunities.
“Rather than spend money on a report to identify issues, we decided to do some of the retrofits we already knew about,” Lay says. Schatz Lab worked with the Tribe to adjust the project proposal and the Department of Energy agreed to award the grant without requiring a retro-commissioning study.
Instead, that funding went to other projects. The tribal building in Weitchpec received energy efficiency upgrades to its heating and cooling systems and occupancy sensors for its lighting system.
“Small changes like this are really beneficial,” Schatz Lab engineer Richard Engel says. “They’re relatively simple. They make sure no equipment is running unnecessarily. And they save energy.”
Additionally, the building received a 15.7-kilowatt solar electric array. That system was increased from a 13.6-kilowatt system after the price of photovoltaic equipment went down.
Schatz Lab engineers also developed an interactive interpretive display for the lobby of the Weitchpec tribal building. The full-color, touch-screen display allows users to get information on the energy efficiency upgrades of the project, including the real-time energy production of the new solar array. Information from the interpretive display will also be accessible online.
“The display definitely catches your attention as soon as you walk in the door,” Lay says. “If the information doesn’t get people’s attention right away, the fact that it’s interactive will.”
Work at the tribal building in Klamath is currently underway. Those energy efficiency upgrades include weatherizing seals on doors and installation of ceiling fans to improve heating and cooling and prevent stratification. In a room with high ceilings like the Klamath building, stratification occurs when warm air rises and doesn’t circulate with the colder air near the ground. On a cold day, that means the heat has to be turned up much higher to heat the air near the ground. Ceiling fans will also help to circulate air and keep people comfortable on a hot day, without resorting to energy-sapping air conditioning.
As this project winds down, Schatz Lab and the Yurok Tribe have already submitted another grant proposal, this one to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to continue to explore and implement actions to create a more sustainable community.
“Personally,” Lay says, “I learned a lot from this project, and that will carry over into my other projects in terms of energy efficiency.”
Humboldt State University President Rollin Richmond, Representative Mike Thompson, and Schatz Director Peter Lehman will preside at the building dedication and open house of Humboldt State University’s new Schatz Energy Research Center on Friday, Sept. 2 at 11 a.m. The new structure sits just west of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building and the dedication is open to the general public as well as the campus community.
The state-of-the-art 6,000 square foot-plus center houses an exterior laboratory, two indoor labs, a machine shop, a conference and library room, and offices for staff and graduate students.
Adhering to the sustainability principles of both Schatz and Humboldt State, the new building meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold equivalent standards.
“This is a watershed event for the lab,” Lehman said. “Our new facility gives us the wherewithal to develop the clean energy technology our world so desperately needs, and now we’ll be able to get even more students involved in the work.”
Funding for the $3.2 million project came from the estate of the late Dr. Louis W. Schatz, long-time benefactor of the Center, founded in 1989 when he was president of General Plastics Manufacturing Company in Tacoma, Washington.
At the founding, Schatz wrote, “I look forward to a successful research effort and hope that eventually it will solve many of the world’s energy and pollution problems.”
The Center’s mission is to promote the use of clean and renewable energy, geared to energy efficiency and hydrogen fuel cell technology. The Center’s work spans research and development, technology demonstration, project development, energy systems analysis, and education and training.
Notable Schatz Center successes during its 22-year history include the first fuel cell car licensed to drive in the U.S. and the nation’s first solar-powered hydrogen fueling station. Its fuel cell patents have been licensed to four U.S. corporations seeking to commercialize the technology. Recently, the Center designed and built a modern hydrogen fueling station on the HSU campus and it is testing a state-of-the-art Toyota fuel cell vehicle.
Most recently an HSU/Schatz team travelled to Bhutan in south Asia and wrapped up the first installation of Smart Grid devices named GridShares, with the specific purpose of enabling rural customers of hydroelectric power to manage their individual power use and curb brownouts.
Humboldt State students and faculty advisors installed 90 low-cost GridShare systems of their own design in the village of Rukubji. They collaborated with local residents on-site, teamed with the Bhutan Power Corporation, Bhutan’s Department of Energy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Long-established internationally with links to Asia, Africa, Central America, Europe, Canada and Mexico, the Schatz Center also recently made its first technology transfer to the Middle East, completing an agreement to provide a test station and accompanying fuel cell to the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The initiative is aimed at jump-starting Masdar’s fuel cell research. It is a key part of Masdar’s charter as an international graduate-level research and education institution in the Persian Gulf, directed at spurring renewable energy knowledge, development, and practical applications.
As Schatz staff and students settle into their new building, researchers have a new piece of equipment as well. A torrefier is on loan from Renewable Fuel Technologies (RFT), a San Mateo start-up business. Through torrefaction, biomass, such as logging slash, is heated without oxygen to temperatures of 250-300 degrees Celsius. The result is a cleaner-burning, energy-dense renewable energy source that RFT calls “BioCoal.” The Schatz Center is performing research to assist RFT in designing a commercially-viable torrefier that is self-sustaining.
Schatz is affiliated with Humboldt State’s Environmental Resources Engineering program, enabling both undergraduate and graduate students to acquire rare hands-on experience with cutting-edge, 21st century energy technologies.
A Humboldt State University team in Bhutan has completed the first installation of Smart Grid devices called GridShares with the specific purpose of enabling rural electricity users to stabilize their own electricity grids and curb damaging brownouts.
Humboldt State students and faculty advisors have put the low-cost, prototype system of their own design into operation in the village of Rukubji. They collaborated with local residents on-site, teamed with the Bhutan Power Corporation, Bhutan’s Department of Energy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Bhutan is a developing country in the Himalayas situated above India and below Tibet. A Smart Grid delivers electricity via digital technology, which monitors usage and enables users to adjust their consumption, conserve energy, cut their utility costs and help ensure dependable current.
Chhimi Dorji (far right), an HSU alumnus, Department of Energy engineer and GridShare team member, talks to Rukubji residents at a village gathering.
Members of Humboldt State’s Renewable Energy Student Union won a $75,000 technology design award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the Bhutan project. It demonstrates the potential of smart grid technology at the village level. HSU students and faculty say it holds the promise of improving renewable energy mini-grids in thousands of communities worldwide.
“GridShare devices are useful wherever brownouts are an issue with mini-grids,” says graduate student Meg Harper, who is pursuing a second undergraduate degree in Environmental Resources Engineering as well as a master’s in Energy, Technology, and Policy. “The GridShare makes electrical power more reliable. It lets residents know when power is and isn’t available and when you can use large appliances and when you can’t. Now, Rukubji residents can avoid damaging their appliances.”
Faculty Advisor Arne Jacobson, co-director of HSU’s Schatz Energy Research Center and Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering, says, “The students and our partners in Bhutan have done a great job of developing a creative solution to a challenging problem. One key aspect of the solution is a multi-disciplinary approach that combines technical innovation with education and the social dimensions of energy use.” GridShare encourages electrical load shifting with a three-pronged concept: education, indication, and enforcement.
The education prong pinpointed why Rukubji was experiencing brownouts and assisted the village in addressing the challenge. The Humboldt State team created a series of bilingual posters and pamphlets to help Rukubji residents learn how to work with GridShares and better manage their limited electric power.
The team led a student education program in Rukubji’s fourth, fifth and sixth grades about brownouts and load shifting. It also did community outreach, briefing residents from more than 80 households and businesses about the installations, explaining the GridShare program and responding to questions and concerns.
“As we were installing the GridShares, people in Rukubji gained a broader understanding of how electricity works,” said HSU Environmental Resources Engineering alum Kyle Palmer (’07). “As we explained the system, they came to realize that brownouts are not caused by the weather. They recognized that electricity is a finite resource. It made people aware that they can’t all use a lot of electricity all at the same time.”
Both Palmer and fellow alum Tom Quetchenbach (’11, Environmental Resources Engineering master’s degree with the GridShare project) spoke highly of Rukubji residents’ willingness to cooperate and the unstinting hospitality they extend to visitors. In Palmer’s words, “There is a real spirit of social sacrifice, to pitch in and share the grid.”
As for hospitality, Quetchenbach said he was impressed by it throughout the team’s stay. “Whenever you went into a house, you were served a cup of tea. Sometimes we had more than 10 cups during the course of a day!”
GridShare’s “indication” prong literally signals the state of the grid to the consumer. A display in each resident’s kitchen activates a green LED light when enough electricity is available for high-power appliances; a red one signals that residents must limit the use of high-power appliances such as rice cookers, though they can continue to use low-power devices such as lights, radios, televisions and mobile phone chargers.In its “enforcement function,” GridShare blocks the use of large appliances during brownouts. Rukubji residents are thereby encouraged to shift their use of high-power appliances such as water boilers to periods of low demand. That helps stem disruptive brownouts during peak hours of usage.
The Humboldt State team traveled to Bhutan in June to install GridShares in each home in Rukubji. Students will continue to monitor the devices for at least six months. They will evaluate GridShares’ capacity to stabilize the electric system and also assess residents’ satisfaction with the devices.
This summer’s phase of the pilot project is one part of a multi-year effort, not only with the village of Rukubji, but also the surrounding communities of Bumiloo, Sangdo, and Tsenpokto.Chhejay Wangdi, manager of the Bhutan Power Corporation’s Electricity Service Division, says Gridshares are particularly beneficial because “rather than managing grids with rolling blackouts, all houses can now keep their lights on, even in periods of high demand. This makes our customers happy indeed.”
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Christopher B. Daley - A shield law for reporters? Thanks, but no thanks!First, the Obama administration antagonized the news media by seizing the phone records of The Associated Press. Now, in an effort to make up, the president has thrown his support behind a Senate bill that would create a federal “shield law” that would allow journalists to legally prote […]
Al Jazeera - Texas has joined the crowd of Gulf of Mexico states to file suit against BP Plc, Halliburton Co and others for their role in one of the worst oil spills in US history.The complaint, filed on Friday in US District Court in Beaumont, Texas, alleges that the companies and others "engaged in wilful and wanton misconduct" for their role in […]
Glenn Greenwald, Guardian, UK - That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the "war on terror" will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week's big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that […]
Hit & Run - In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed New London officials to seize an entire neighborhood via eminent domain on the basis that the city had a "carefully considered" plan to boost economic development.After the initial plan—a corporate campus with hotels, condos, and office space—fell apart, officials selected a new developer to […]
Alternet - For the past 30 years, police departments throughout the United States have benefited from the government’s largesse in the form of military weaponry and training, incentives offered in the ongoing “war on drugs.” For the average citizen watching events such as the intense pursuit of the Tsarnaev brothers on television, it would be difficult to di […]
CNN, MARCH 1998 - Democratic fund-raiser Johnny Chung has agreed to plead guilty to election law violations and cooperate in the ongoing Justice Department investigation into illegal campaign fund-raising in the 1996 elections. . . Chung became a major figure in the Democratic fund-raising scandal when it was learned he made almost 50 visits to the White Hou […]