California jail completes innovative smart grid project

Chevron Energy Solutions (NYSE: CVX) and Alameda County, California, recently announced the completion of a massive new smart grid project they hope could help save the county thousands of dollars each year. 

Santa Rita Jail, one of the largest jails in the U.S., has implemented its own microgrid, an entirely separate electrical system supplying power to the jail's facilities that can be connected or disconnected from the broader grid. 

Under normal circumstances, the jail will draw on power from the region's utility company, but the facility can sever this connection during an outage, instead relying on renewable energy systems and stored energy. 

The battery system that normally draws from these renewable sources can also store energy from the grid when prices are at their lowest. The Santa Rita project is the largest demonstration of this application of smart grid technology, involving 3 megawatts of power demand. 

"This project is a major step forward in transforming California's energy grid and making a cleaner energy future possible," Robert Weisenmiller, chair of the California Energy Commission, said in a statement. 

New applications for smart grids can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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