Chemehuevi Indian Tribe Reservation Integrates Smart Energy Management Controls

A power system that integrates solar panels, battery storage, advanced data analytics, and smart energy management controls is being installed on the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe reservation near Lake Havasu, California. A joint venture between the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering and private industry partners, the microgrid will be installed at the Chemehuevi Community Center, which is the tribe’s designated emergency response center. It is expected that the project will help alleviate problems caused by frequent energy blackouts, often caused by the hot desert climate, floods during times of rains, and the rural location of the reservation, which is served by a single transmission line connection to the grid. It will provide uninterrupted clean power to run the community center as well as the adjacent tribal housing offices and will also lower energy costs and enable the tribe to implement year-round advanced energy management strategies.

“This project has the dual benefit of providing an environmentally friendly power system for the tribe while allowing researchers to study a system that could become a model for people in California and elsewhere,” said Alfredo Martinez-Morales, managing director of the Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE) at the Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT).

The integrated system is supported by a nearly $2.6 million grant from the California Energy Commission. Industry partners include SunPower, Primus Power, EnSync Energy Systems, and Pacific Energy.  UC Riverside engineers plan to use their developed energy management control algorithms to implement optimal power management strategies through four techniques: peak reduction, load shifting, demand response, and storage-to-grid activities. The three-year project will serve as a model for other communities wishing to install similar systems.

“This type of university-industry partnership is critical not only for conducting independent, non-biased validation of leading-edge technologies, but also for providing a road map to other stakeholders wishing to deploy similar types of projects with lower tolerance for risk,” Martinez-Morales said.