Graduation Date

Spring 2022

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Peter Alstone

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Tesfayohanes Yacob

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Arne Jacobson

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Systems


In what is now known as the state of California in the United States, the Karuk Tribe is interested in deploying a renewable-powered microgrid in the rural community of Orleans to improve electricity system reliability and resilience to address a wide range of challenges, including extreme events such as wildfires. This study assesses the potential of local distributed renewable energy and battery storage to meet Orleans' energy needs today and in the increasingly electrified future using an energy model. It also identifies existing cultural and social priorities for energy technology along with structural barriers to renewable energy adoption and the decarbonization of transportation and water heating from interviews with community members.

Many, but not all community members we interviewed find their electric service unreliable, do not trust PG&E or their bills, and are interested in alternative sources of energy. However, the high upfront costs of renewables and lack of local contractors can lower the priority of adoption. Keeping food from expiring during blackouts is a key concern for study participants, in part because the lack of nearby affordable grocery stores means households own several fridges / freezers to store groceries and culturally important foods.

Given existing demand, solar resource, land area, and available funding, the community of Orleans is well suited for renewable-powered microgrid development. Depending on the extent of electrification, a renewable-powered microgrid in Orleans with implementation costs ranging from $12 million to $15 million could provide up to 21 days of autonomy when islanded and reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90%.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location