New microgrid will keep aerial firefighting base energized to help protect rural communities from fires year-round
Project video available here
SAN DIEGO, April 18, 2022 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has completed the Ramona microgrid, one of four planned microgrids within the High Fire Threat District. The Ramona facility will provide backup power to the Ramona Air Attack Base, home to CAL FIRE and U.S. Forest Service’s aerial firefighting assets dedicated to protecting rural communities. The microgrid produces zero emissions as it’s powered by 500/kW/2000kWh of battery storage. It was built in collaboration with the two agencies and is part of the SDG&E’s ongoing commitment to keep essential resources powered during Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) and other emergency situations.
“As climate conditions continue to worsen, it’s imperative that we develop innovative solutions to support the continuity of essential resources, particularly our region’s emergency response resources, so they are ready for deployment at any moment,” said SDG&E CEO Caroline Winn. “The completion of the Ramona microgrid is a milestone in our ongoing partnership with CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service as we work to make our electric system safer, cleaner and more reliable.”
“We are grateful for the strong working relationship we have with SDG&E. It gives us peace of mind to have backup power for a critical facility like the Ramona Air Attack Base, especially given the fact that fire season in California has become year-round,” said CAL FIRE/San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham.
Microgrids are small power grids that can operate in parallel or independently of the larger electric grid to keep pre-defined areas or community resources powered during emergencies. In 2013, SDG&E built the first utility-scale microgrid in the U.S. in Borrego Springs, CA. The company is working to add three more microgrids to help lessen the impact of PSPS and support community resilience by keeping critical facilities energized.
“The U.S. Forest Service depends on the Ramona Air Attack Base to protect communities within and adjacent to the Cleveland National Forest. The ability to use aircraft to help suppress catastrophic wildfires is a critical tool in our fire suppression toolbox. Successful fire suppression not only helps safeguard the people and property in local communities, it also helps protect important watersheds, sensitive wildlife habitats and cultural resources,” said Scott Tangenberg, Forest Supervisor. “Equally important as fire suppression, the prevention of wildfires additionally helps reduce carbon emissions and lung-damaging air pollution – both of which contribute to negative health and climate impacts.”
CAL FIRE staffs the Ramona Air Attack Base year-round with one OV-10A Bronco tactical aircraft and two S-2T airtankers. These aircraft support wildland fire suppression locally and can be requested to assist with fires throughout California. Additionally, the base houses the U.S. Forest Service’s Bell 205 A++ helicopter and crew, which serves the Cleveland National Forest and can also be mobilized to help throughout the State of California. During fire incidents in San Diego County, the Ramona Air Attack Base serves as the hub for fixed wing aircraft that are assigned to the incident.
Microgrids are just one of many wildfire mitigation projects included in SDG&E’s Wildfire Mitigation Plan (WMP) filed annually with the California Public Utilities Commission. In accordance with Senate Bill 901, the WMP outlines the ongoing practices and additional improvements SDG&E will make beyond investments already made to combat the effects of climate change and year-round wildfire threats. For more information on SDG&E’s 2021 WMP, please visit SDGE.com/2021-Wildfire-Mitigation-Plan.