Energy Resilience and Emergency Response
for Humboldt County
RCEA works with its member-governments and other public agencies across Humboldt County to help deploy renewable energy systems that provide facility-level emergency backup power in addition to reducing utility costs and carbon emissions.
Resilience means different things in different situations, but essentially it means having the ability to handle the unknown and recover quickly. For RCEA and our strategic plan work, we focus on energy resilience to both stabilize the cost of electricity and to provide reliable sources of electricity to our customers and the region.
We recently completed an innovative and collaborative project with several key partners at our local airport, the Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid, and we’ve also worked with local agencies to boost energy security and reliability countywide.
Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid
The Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid is RCEA’s first collaborative, locally-owned, multi-partner renewable energy facility at our regional airport. It serves as a modern cornerstone for a healthier, more resilient, and energy-independent community. Projects like this are possible because our Community Choice Energy (CCE) customers support RCEA’s mission to invest our energy dollars locally rather than exporting them to distant shareholders. As each passing season demonstrates what we can expect from climate change, Humboldt shows how to be part of the solution and grow stronger in the process. The value of this project is exceeding our expectations as earthquakes, severe weather, and power outages continue to challenge Humboldt County’s electrical grid.
Visit our Redwood Coast Airport Microgrid page for more information.
City of Rio Dell
RCEA assisted the City of Rio Dell to apply for a solar, battery storage, and emergency generator from the California Office of Emergency Services. The system was designed to offset 100% of the electric use at City Hall and the Police Department and keep both offices up and running during an emergency.
“This was a vital collaborative project between the City of Rio Dell and the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. On December 20, 2022, Rio Dell was hit hard by a major earthquake. Grid power was out for two days in the aftermath, but City Hall remained powered through the solar, battery and backup generator project. It was the Authority that played the key role in making this project a reality. Because of this robust electric redundancy, our Police Department and City staff were better able to help the citizens of Rio Dell during a time of great need. RCEA should be proud and people all over the Redwood Coast should be proud of this work.”
-Kyle Knopp, Rio Dell City Manager
Rio Dell project timeline
(click to enlarge)
Kneeland Fire Protection District
The Kneeland Fire Protection District (KFPD) was one of the first applicants to RCEA’s Public Agency Solar Program back in 2018. During our first meeting with their staff and Board members, we discussed their vision of an energy independent and resilient facility. At that point the foundation for the new facility was poured but the facility was not built yet. RCEA provided solar and storage assessments and technical assistance that helped KFPD apply for grant funding for the project. RCEA continued to provide technical assistance and support through the contracting process. It’s been great working with KFPD and to see their vision of a resilient firefighting facility come to fruition and to know that a critical facility like that is able to keep the lights on and provide critical services during utility power outages.
“The Kneeland Fire Protection District and the Kneeland Volunteer Fire Department provide medical, fire, and rescue services 24/7/365. Additionally, we are focused on long term resiliency for the Kneeland community plus mutual aid support to our partner agencies in the greater Humboldt community. If there is ever a major disaster, like a Cascadia subduction earthquake or a storm or fire event that isolates this community, our goal is to be prepared to provide emergency services both inside and outside of our district. Having electricity not dependent on the local electricity grid is key to resiliency. RCEA, and Mike Avcollie in particular, were a crucial part of the first phase of the plan: getting funding to install solar panels on our firehouse. After that we got funding for battery storage; a backup generator will be the third feature of our electricity independence. Everything is working out well so far and we are very grateful to have worked with RCEA.”
– Bob Phipps, Kneeland Fire Protection District
Petrolia Volunteer Fire Dept.
When the Petrolia Volunteer Fire Department’s back-up generator failed in February 2023 during extreme weather events and continuous power outages, Fire Chief Chris Gilda reached out to Chief Nick Paper at Shelter Cove VFD to see if they could use the resilient solar and battery trailer that had been loaned to Humboldt County by Captain Richard Birt of New Use Energy. The trailer was delivered just in time for the next power outages that occurred on February 25 and March 5. With the mobile supply of electricity, they were able to maintain emergency communications with volunteer firefighters and first responders, have access to the internet, run their water pump circuit, air compressor, and electric heaters for a warming station for local residents. For now, the Petrolia VFD will continue to house the trailer at their station to cover the needs for their community.
City of Trinidad
The City of Trinidad, which provides services to over 3,400 residents, was struggling with their facilities’ electrical service equipment that was over 44 years old and approaching the end of its useful life. RCEA provided technical support to help the City get funding to install a 14.2kW roof mounted, grid-connected solar PV system, a battery backup storage system, and electrical upgrades. These improvements and microgrid functionality make it possible for them to continue with critical operations during power outages caused by weather, PSPS events, and earthquakes. The upgrades also allow them to offset 100% of their annual electricity use at Trinidad’s Town Hall, Civic Club, and Firehouse City Annex, including staff offices, sheriff substation, and City Hall facilities.
Read RCEA’s RePower plan:
This action plan consists of implementation measures specific to the functions of RCEA as the regional energy authority for Humboldt County and in alignment with the mission and purpose in RCEA’s Joint Powers Agreement, which is to:
Develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives that reduce energy demand, increase energy efficiency, and advance the use of clean, efficient and renewable resources available in the region.
Visit these pages to learn about various resiliency projects and initiatives:
Public Agency Solar Program. The program provides technical assistance and navigating finance opportunities to advance local agencies’ ability to implement solar and storage projects that provide cost savings, greenhouse gas reductions and resiliency to our community. https://redwoodenergy.org/local-agencies/
Energy Storage Incentives: RCEA encourages our customers to take advantage of rebates available for a limited time for installing energy storage technology such as batteries at homes, businesses, and public facilities. Energy storage can reduce utility bills and keep the lights on during a power outage. Humboldt County Homes and Businesses are eligible for incentives provided by the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP).