Coast Guard holds microgrid groundbreaking ceremony in Petaluma

Adm. Karl Shultz, Coast Guard commandant, speaks at a ground breaking ceremony for a renewable energy microgrid on U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma, California, Jan. 28, 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Hunter Schnabel)

Adm. Karl Shultz, Coast Guard commandant, speaks at a ground breaking ceremony for a renewable energy microgrid on U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma, California, Jan. 28, 2022. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Hunter Schnabel)

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Coast Guard Training Center (TRACEN) Petaluma held a groundbreaking ceremony for a renewable energy microgrid at the base Friday.

The primary purpose of the microgrid is to enhance TRACEN Petaluma’s resiliency, which stems from the Kincade Fire in 2019 that resulted in the facility being without power for five days.

“This project strengthens our resilience to better endure significant weather events that threaten lives and livelihoods, as well as displace individuals, families and entire communities,” said Adm. Karl L. Schultz, the Coast Guard commandant. “It is an important step in ensuring the Coast Guard remains ready, anytime and anywhere.”

The goal of the project is to allow TRACEN Petaluma to be able to produce their own power for up to 10-days of independent and full operations through the installation of five megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels and 11.6 megawatt hours of battery storage.

“This energy performance contract provides clean energy generation and operational resilience to include a microgrid component and is the first to be designed with the primary objective of accomplishing complete and sustained ‘off-the-grid’ capability within minutes of utility power loss,” said Cmdr. Todd Wimmer, TRACEN Petaluma’s chief engineer. “It ensures the personnel safety and mission security support to Training Center Petaluma; it additionally contributes to increased safety and infrastructure stability to the larger Petaluma/Sonoma region.”

The Coast Guard awarded a $48 million contract for the microgrid on Sept. 29, 2021, which will be paid with the energy savings over a 23-year contract term. Construction is slated to be completed within two years.

In addition to the resiliency benefit for the TRACEN, the microgrid is estimated to result in annual savings of $1.2 million, 8.7 million kilowatt-hours and 50.8 kgal of propane.

TRACEN Petaluma is the Coast Guard’s largest West Coast training center providing apprentice-level training for eight Coast Guard enlisted career fields and is home to the Chief Petty Officer Academy. TRACEN supports approximately 3,500 students per year, 360 permanent staff and 500 family housing residents, all encompassed within an 837-acre, 810,000 square-foot campus.

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