Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type

Thesis

Program

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

Will Fisher

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Sintana Vergara

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environment and Community

Abstract

In Northern California, the Karuk Tribe is feeling the effects of climate change on inadequate energy infrastructures leading to unreliable power supply. Improving energy reliability in a way that also increases energy sovereignty is necessary. Renewable energy microgrids have emerged as a pathway forward.

Modeling ownership structures and cash flows for different microgrid configurations can support the Tribe’s implementation of a microgrid in Orleans, CA that maximizes community benefits. This thesis considers a front-of-the-meter (FTM) and behind-the-meter (BTM) configuration, both approximately 2 MW solar PV and 3 MW/12 MWh battery energy storage. Cash flows including capital costs, operations and maintenance costs, revenue and savings are modeled for each configuration as well as the net present value (NPV) over 20 years.

The FTM configuration has a -$17.1 million NPV compared to the BTM -$20.1 million. However, if the microgrid were to be publicly or grant funded (i.e. no capital costs), the BTM configuration has an $8.04 million NPV compared to the FTM $4.10 million. Understanding available funding opportunities early on can therefore impact which configuration is most financially viable.

A FTM system could be owned by Tribal government with revenue and maintenance responsibilities accruing to the Tribal government. A BTM configuration would include many smaller systems owned and maintained by community members, who would save on their utility bills. These configurations both increase energy sovereignty but through different pathways of empowerment. Therefore, the ideal mix of BTM and FTM capacity will be determined by the Tribe based on their preferences.

Citation Style

APA

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