Groundbreaking Viejas Enterprise microgrid project promotes tribal energy autonomy and path toward enhanced stability of the California electric grid.
Thursday 3 November 2022
Alpine, California – November 3, 2022. Development of a cutting edge microgrid begins today in Alpine, California, a project which will serve as a blueprint for how long-duration energy storage solutions can support the state’s transition to 100% clean electricity.
Representatives from the California Energy Commission, Indian Energy, the Viejas Tribe of Kumeyaay Indians and Invinity Energy Systems gathered today to formally kick off the project, which will deliver renewable energy on demand for the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and is funded in part by a $31 Million grant from the California Energy Commission.
More than 4 GW of battery storage is currently installed in California ISO territory and the state projects more than 48 GW of battery storage (including 4 GW of long duration storage) will be needed by 2045. This project is a vital part of California’s Long-Duration Energy Storage Program, which will provide an initial $140 million for innovative energy storage systems that support grid reliability and the state’s clean energy transition goals.
“The California Energy Commission is proud to support this unique project with the largest grant we have ever provided to a tribal community. Not only will it support critical operations for the tribe during wildfire-driven power outages, it can also benefit the statewide grid in the event of emergencies while supporting innovation and investment in the long-duration storage industry as this new resource becomes fully commercialized.”
– David Hochschild, Chair, California Energy Commission
California is leading the nation in electrifying and decarbonizing its energy infrastructure, which includes integrating ever-more renewable energy onto the electric grid. To manage the intermittent nature of renewable sources, the state is working with partners to install long duration energy storage solutions to ensure the future electric grid improves upon today’s reliability and safety at a low cost to consumers.
Part of that path includes having large-scale electricity customers implement their own reliable, resilient renewable generation. Indian Energy’s project for the Viejas Enterprise Microgrid will pioneer this move for consumers state-wide by integrating more than 30,000 solar panels outputting 15 MW of clean power, with 60 MWh of advanced LDES including America’s largest vanadium flow battery from Invinity Energy Systems and a zinc hybrid cathode battery system from Eos Energy Enterprises. This cutting-edge microgrid system will deliver clean solar power to the Viejas Casino and Resort, located on the lands of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians. The battery systems, together one of the largest hybrid energy storage devices ever constructed, will store excess electricity generated from the sun to offset peak demand, run the facility overnight, and deliver microgrid operation of the entire site 24/7 on 100% clean renewable power.
“Indian Energy is excited to be working with Invinity Energy Systems and Eos Energy Storage on a system of systems that will demonstrate the ability to provide reliable energy solutions for tribes and create much needed jobs and revenue for our tribal reservations.”
– Allen G. Cadreau, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Indian Energy
The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, one of the remaining 12 bands of the Kumeyaay Indian Nation, resides on a 1,600-acre reservation in the Viejas Valley, east of the community of Alpine in San Diego County, California. The Viejas Band is recognized as a sovereign government by the United States, with which it maintains a government-to-government relationship. The heart of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians’ entrepreneurial achievements is Viejas Casino & Resort, recognized as one of the most respected and successful Indian gaming resorts in California.
“This solar microgrid project will enable us to create a reliable and sustainable source of clean energy for our gaming, hospitality, and retail operations going forward. In turn, the associated non-lithium battery system supports the environmental protection and cultural stewardship of our ancestral land, thereby insuring the vibrant future of our children”
“We are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the California Energy Commission (CEC) and Indian Energy in the development and implementation of this forward thinking technology for the collective betterment of our great State, and the nation at large. We are appreciative of the CEC’s financial support, and for the foresight and planning of the Governor’s office, and his personal commitment towards the advancement of clean energy solutions.
“As a large scale electricity consumer, we recognize our responsibility to lead by example in lessening our burden on the electric grid, and it is our sincere hope that the demonstrated financial and environmental merits of this project will serve as a repeatable model for others.”
– John Christman, Chairman, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians
The 10 MWh vanadium redox flow battery, manufactured by Invinity Energy Systems, is expected to be the largest of its type in the U.S. once installed. A form of Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) and a leading alternative to more commonly used lithium-ion batteries for stationary energy storage projects deployed worldwide, Invinity’s flow batteries offer significant advantages in terms of safety (they cannot catch fire) and durability (they do not degrade with use), making them ideally suited for the 24/7 duty cycle required for microgrids like this one. The batteries do not contain so-called ‘conflict minerals’ such as cobalt and are almost completely recyclable at the end of their 25+ year life, reducing environmental impacts and disposal costs for project owners. Installed alongside an Eos zinc hybrid cathode battery, the two technologies will work together as a hybrid system, drawing on the characteristics of both technologies to further optimize operation of the microgrid.
“From our earliest commercial installations Invinity has seen the potential for our vanadium flow batteries in California, so it is fitting that our largest project to date be installed in support of the State’s clean energy and long-duration storage objectives. Our success depends on great partners, and the Indian Energy team have exactly the vision and capabilities that will see us accelerate toward California’s ambitious goals. The project at Viejas Resort and Casino is further proof that Invinity’s safe, durable batteries are the right fit for communities committed to independently delivering their own reliable, low-cost power and the right answer for applications across the electric grid as the world treads the path to net zero.”
– Larry Zulch, Chief Executive Officer, Invinity Energy Systems