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Councilmember Kevin Kildee (City of Camarillo photo)
Wednesday, March 17, 2021

By Chris Frost



Camarillo-- The Camarillo City Council, working jointly with the Sanitary District, March 10, approved standby power at city and CSD Facilities.


The project design budget is $378,748, including $87,364 in the City Hall Facility Fund, $84,863 for the Corporation Yard Fund, $69,319 in Police Facility Funds, $69,319 for the Library Facility Fund, and $67,883 in CSD Capital Projects Funds. An additional appropriation of $385,020 will be needed, for $74,475 in the City Hall Facility Fund, $67,555 in Police Facility Fund, $67,555 in Library Facility Fund, and $175,435 in CSD Capital Projects. The required appropriation in the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget is $385,020.


Andrew Grubb, the city's senior engineer, manages the project and presented the item to the body.


On January 24, 2018, the council approved an agreement with JMPE Electrical Engineering to design standby power utilizing diesel generators at city hall and corporation yard. The following year, the council asked for a feasibility study to use solar and battery storage as cleaner power.


"In February 2020, the council approved an agreement with Clean Coalition to assess five sites, city hall, corporation yard, the police station, library, and the wastewater treatment plant," he said. "On October 28, 2020, staff presented four alternatives to the council, and they directed the staff to move forward with the design of the recommended hybrid microgrid alternative."


The hybrid system will use a combination of solar, battery storage, and diesel generators, he said, and during an outage, solar and battery storage will be used first. When that power gets depleted, the diesel power will turn on in the event of a long-term outage.


"Staff did not propose to install a generator at the library," he said. "They'll rely on solar and battery storage to cover short-term outages. Staff will incorporate the existing diesel generators at the police station and the wastewater treatment plant. The study concluded that it would not be cost-effective, at this time, to install additional solar or battery storage at the courtyard."


Staff also received direction to pursue grant funding for the project and finalize the design of diesel generators at city hall and the corporation yard.


"Since then, the staff has negotiated a proposal with Clean Coalition to provide 30 percent design of the hybrid microgrid," Grubb said. "In December, they submitted three applications to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Building Resilient, Infrastructure and Communities Grant (BRIC), identified grant funding through the California Public Utilities Commission Equity Resiliency Self Generation Incentive Program through Tesla for battery storage at the wastewater treatment plant, and negotiated a proposal with MPE to complete the design of the diesel generators." 


The outcome of the FEMA grant application should come this fall. Completion of the 30 percent microgrid design should be done before the end of 2021.


"At that time, staff will return to the board to decide to proceed with each site," he said. "Whether that is a power purchase agreement (PPA) or a city district-owned model. With the power purchase agreement, the staff would return to the council to amend the agreement with Clean Coalition to develop a request for proposals."


From there, the city will receive proposals from third-party PPA providers who will cover the up-front costs to design and install the microgrid.


"The city would then pay the provider for energy use through a PPA rate," he said. "It's expected that this rate will result in net savings to the city over the term of the agreement."


With the city and district-owned option, he said the decision would be dependent on whether or not the city receives grant funding and any associated grant requirements.


"If the city receives funding from the FEMA program, staff would return to the council with an agreement for Clean Coalition to finalize and go through the environmental process following our standard design bid build process to construct the project. The alternative, depending on the funding source, is that the city would issue a request for proposals to design and install the project."


During the feasibility study, the city learned the PPA model yields the city's highest savings because of the incentives available only to private third-parties.


"In parallel design, JMPE will finalize the design of the diesel generator at city hall and the corporation yard," he said. "The staff did include the cost of the diesel generators in the FEMA grant application. Depending on the outcome, the staff will either finalize the design and package this with the microgrid project if the city receives the grant. Otherwise, the staff would return to the council to advertise bids for the generators and pay for the construction using local funds."


Tesla would submit an S-Grant application in parallel, he said, and pay for the design and installation of battery storage at the wastewater treatment plant through a no-fee agreement.


Councilmember Kevin Kildee asked if the city has any examples of how the battery-operated wastewater treatment plants worked.


"I know this is somewhat cutting edge here and are there any examples of other plants that have implemented this," he asked.


Grubb said it's something the city will examine.


"The battery will be used as the primary source, but once that battery's depleted, we would still have those generators to supply backup power," he said. "It's a cost-savings measure at this point to that peak shaving. It would charge up the low usage and peak time and discharge during the peak time."


Kildee asked how long the battery will last.


"From my understanding, Tesla will take care of all the maintenance and replacement of it for up to 10 years," he said. "After that, how long will the battery last, or are we going to be on the hook for purchasing a new battery at whatever cost the new battery will be."


Grubb expects the battery to last a little longer than 10 years.


"We'd get some usage up to 15-20 years," he said. "The battery storage and capacity will eventually decrease."


Councilmember Tony Trembley asked if grant funding would not be available if it did a power purchase agreement.


"That's correct," Grubb said. "Depending on the grant source, if we went with a PPA, most grants, such as FEMA BRIC, would want you to own and operate it to be eligible for that grant," he said.


Mayor Charlotte Craven said that Tesla moved from California to Nevada, and she wonders where they'll be in 10-15 years.


"How much does it cost to recycle one of these batteries responsibly, and how much does it cost to ship them," she asked about returning an old battery to Tesla.


Ryan Glanville from Tesla said it's similar technology to laptops and phones with lithium-ion batteries.


"There is a market, and you can make a profit recycling it at the end of its life," he said. "We are interested, and after 20 years, it still intrinsically holds its value. There are precious metals we're interested in, and you know the leading manufacturer of electric vehicles and other batteries containing products, it's in our interest that we want to capture those materials throughout time."


He added that the battery manufacturing would continue in Sparks, Nevada, for a long time.


The item passed unanimously.