eLab Accelerator 2016

Eugene Grid Resiliency Collaborative

Project Objective

Align infrastructure investments to create community value and enhance grid resiliency. Create a shared planning and decision making framework among the utility, city, and other local government that allows the institutions to share the costs and benefits of decisions and optimizes community-wide value.

Team Members

Matt McRae - Climate and Energy Analyst
Kevin Holman - Emergency Manager
Matt Hastings - Electrician Specialist
Tony Hardenbrook - Director of Utilities and Energy
Erin Erben - EWEB Power Planning Manager
Frank Lawson - EWEB Systems Engineering Supervisor
Jeannine Parisi - EWEB Government and Community Affairs Coordinator
Steve Newcomb - EWEB Environmental Manager

Project Description

Establish the framework and business model through the implementation of a micro-grid test case/pilot project that enables testing and refinement. The purpose of the pilot project is to: 1. Develop a microgrid to support essential services in a disaster (resilient backbone). 2. Support real time demand reduction during an emergency, and 3. Increase equitable access to electric and water resources. The framework could then be applied to other issues, such as community GHG reductions.

Progress Made to Date (pre-Accelerator)

In 2010 the City of Eugene developed a community climate action plan in partnership with EWEB. As the municipal utility, EWEB has a central role in promoting conservation and equitable access to future technologies. In 2014/15, the City of Eugene, EWEB and others collaboratively developed a multi-jurisdictional Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. The plan includes strategies to develop microgrids and increase local control of electric resources. EWEB has initiated a $295,000 Grid Edge Micro-grid demonstration project in partnership with Green Energy Corp and Powin Energy Corp that focuses on 1) community resiliency and disaster recovery, 2) supporting critical services of water, power, and emergency communications and, 3) identifying and validating the value of aggregated customer or utility-owned distributed generation. In 2015, EWEB worked with Oregon State University to develop a microgrid policy paper.

Post-Accelerator Outcomes

At Accelerator, the team explored what resiliency means in Eugene and a path forward to increase the resilience of their city. The team identified several characteristics of their twenty year vision for a more resilient Eugene. The team took tactical steps towards the future by using the twenty year vision to identify criteria for evaluation of key initiatives and projects to ensure collaboration, coordination and alignment of efforts. Using the selection criteria, the team identified short and medium term potential projects and prioritized them. The team left Accelerator with a one year action plan to execute their work going forward for each of the identified initiatives. The team had several key learnings from both their internal conversations and external engagements with other teams. One was a recognition that resilience planning is as much a 'social' undertaking - hence requiring stakeholder and public engagement - as it is an infrastructure and capital/financial planning undertaking. A second involved recognition that utilizing policy and collaboration to align investments amongst agencies and the private sector can result in tangible community benefits in addition to increased resiliency. The team plans to incorporate these key learnings into their work on this project going forward.