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Sustainable Ramona to host community forum on microgrid proposal

Aug 22, 2023Aug 22, 2023

Sustainable Ramona is hosting a community forum to discuss the creation of a local independent power utility with microgrid technology to lower electricity rates using solar and wind power.

The forum is set for 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 15 in the Community Room of Ramona Community Library at 1275 Main St.

The focus of the meeting will be on steps needed to create a microgrid in Ramona. A microgrid can provide energy to a location as small as a house on up to a small city, said Walt Sindewald, a supporter of the nonprofit Sustainable Ramona.

"The basic structure of a microgrid is that it has sources of power, in this case renewable energy, and it has storage so you can supply power when the renewable energy isn't available," Sindewald said. "It also has control equipment not only for storing energy but for buying and selling energy. And it has the capability of operating independently of the outside electric grid."

Establishing a microgrid in Ramona would benefit homeowners, businesses and potentially agriculture because microgrid energy would be produced and controlled locally, said Sindewald, a 30-year Ramona resident and a longtime proponent of a local microgrid.

A microgrid could reduce utility costs because the community would own the equipment, not SDG&E, Sindewald said. The initial investment in the infrastructure would be high, but amortizing the power it would generate for the community over 20 years would make the long-term investment small, he said.

California communities such as Sacramento and Roseville that have nonprofit utilities are significantly reducing their electric rates compared to for-profit utilities, Sindewald said.

"Renewable energy is significantly cheaper than energy from gas-powered plants," he said. "And a nonprofit utility would be cheaper than a for-profit utility by significant amounts. That's why we’re proposing this. There's a pathway to get this done and we need a good project team to study it and to make recommendations going forward."

The community forum will be moderated by Rob Lewallen, a 2023 recipient of the Ramona Lifetime Achievement Award. The meeting will focus on three topics: Why Ramona needs a community electric utility, why a renewable energy microgrid is viable, and possible funding sources for a microgrid project. maybe say something else about him. on review board? lifetime achievement award isn't really meaningful unless you know what he does.

The forum will also explore a special use of the technology known as agrivoltaics that offers benefits specific to agriculture. Essentially, solar panels are located above plants or livestock so a vineyard or farm can continue to generate food products for sale while solar panels are set up overhead to convert sunshine into electricity. The solar panels would provide shade to save water and they could increase crop productivity. attribution

Sindewald said Sustainable Ramona would like to see leaders in the Ramona community attend the community forum to help develop a coalition that would take the project to the next level.

"We believe that Ramona offers an ideal location for this technology whose use is being explored and expanded throughout the world," he said. "With our access to solar and wind power along with the space to accommodate the technology, I can foresee an independent utility that might even market its power to users outside of Ramona."

In addition to Sustainable Ramona speakers, expert panelists will be available at the forum to comment and answer questions from the audience.

Detrio serves as the senior adviser for the Microgrid Resources Coalition and manages all microgrid industry advocacy efforts in the West, including serving as an expert witness and providing testimony in multiple state legislatures and commissions. Detrio is also an award-winning advocate known for her leadership in passing California's landmark microgrid legislation, Senate Bill 1339, expanding the state's energy storage incentive program with $800 million in new funding, Senate Bill 700, and securing microgrid eligibility and funding for California's new reliability incentive programs, Assembly Bill 205.

Much of that research has focused on the technical and economic potential for decentralized energy, solar, batteries and microgrids – and the ways in which these decentralized supplies of energy generate societal benefits such as lower CO2 emissions, lower energy costs, and improved reliability and resilience.

Lewallen has designed and built more than 300 homes as well as many additions and remodels in the Ramona area over the past 45 years.

The wildfires of 2006 bright firsthand realization of climate change – burning home and business assets. While rebuilding according to LEED Platinum specifications, Macomber and his wife, Betsy, created a sustainable Net Zero electric home, using thermal mass, solar and battery backup.

As a registered professional engineer, Powers has extensive knowledge and experience in the fields of energy and environmental engineering, air emissions control, and regional energy planning. Powers has written two local solar and battery storage strategic plans for the San Diego area: "San Diego Smart Energy 2020," and "Roadmap to 100 Percent Local Solar Build-Out by 2030 in the City of San Diego."For more information visit Sustainable Ramona's website at