Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria press release:
Two rows of solar panels installed on a hillside next to Singley Road are now supplying power to the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria’s Tish Non Community Center. The solar panels are one part of a renewable energy system developed by Rocklin, CA-based JLM Energy, and the first Tribal renewable microgrid system in California.
The next step in this unique project is to install wind turbines, which will be mounted on the back row of the solar panels. “These are micro-turbines,” said Matthew Mattson, Executive Director of Tribal Operations for Bear River, “that are designed for urban applications.” He said the turbines are low noise, with blades less than three feet long.
In all, 20 turbines will be installed, with the goal of having the wind-related portion of the alternative energy project completed sometime in October.
The JLM Energy Gridz system will provide a 30-kilowatt microgrid, which is supported by a 100-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system and several wind turbines to provide an integrated approach to sustainable energy. This system is unique in that is combines a microgrid with wind and solar energy in an integrated system.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first renewable, hybrid microgrid installed by a California tribe,” said Edwin Smith, Tribal Council Member and Director of Environment and Natural Resources. “Bear River is thinking globally and acting locally,” he said.
The energy system will support the Community Center’s operations during a power outage, and will reduce energy use overall by shaving peak demand charges.
The tribe currently has a single ten watt wind turbine that has been generating power for a component of the Tribal wastewater treatment infrastructure for more than five years.
“Our experience with the single wind turbine has been positive,” said Edwin Smith, Tribal Council Member and Director of Environment and Natural Resources. “We know it works,” he added. “The technology has improved for wind and solar, and it is the right thing to do for the environment. It’s a sound economic decision in the long run,” Smith said, “but it is also a long term investment in our planet.”
“The investment in the installation pencils out to a ten year payback when analyzing reduced power costs for the Tish Non Community Center,” said Dakota McGinnis, Vice Chairman and Economic Development Director.
The project is part of a sustained effort by the Bear River Tribe to diversify economically, reduce its carbon footprint and become more self-sufficient as a community. It is the first tribal renewable microgrid system in California.