The local utility next month will begin installing a microgrid at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in southwestern Arizona that will serve as a backup power supply for the installation as well as the surrounding community in the event the commercial grid goes down.
“On a hot summer day, if customers are using a lot of electricity in Yuma and we need more power, we can turn on the generator to serve customers in Yuma. So it improves reliability for the area,” Jenna Shaver, a spokeswoman for Arizona Public Service (APS), told the Yuma Sun. Microgrids are small, self-contained electrical grids which can run in conjunction with or independently of the main power grid.
The microgrid, which will be installed next to the base’s existing power station, will use diesel fuel to generate up to 25 megawatts of electricity, which is expected to be enough to meet its future energy needs. Diesel was selected because of its low impact on the environment, and because it allows the microgrid to be fired much more quickly than other energy sources, according to the story.
“It can start up in seconds, that’s one of the reasons we chose that,” Shaver said. “Whereas natural gas might take minutes, this takes seconds to start up and provide power.”
She said the project will make the installation the first military base in the country to have 100 percent backup power.
“This is a historic moment for the Marine Corps, Department of the Navy and Department of Defense. We are moving towards an energy secure future, and we are proud that MCAS Yuma has made such a significant step towards that goal,” Col. Ricardo Martinez, the installation’s commanding officer, said in a statement.
The microgrid is expected to be completed by June. APS will operate and maintain the system for the base during a 30-year lease, and solar panels may be added in the future. Shaver would not reveal the project’s cost.