RePower Humboldt

RePower Humboldt is an effort to build a Renewable Energy Secure Community, or a RESCO.  A RESCO is a concept defined by the California Energy Commission (CEC):  it refers to a community that has developed its local renewable energy resources, including energy efficiency and conservation, in an effort to meet its local energy needs and to secure its sustainable energy future at minimal costs to energy consumers.  Developing local renewable energy resources as the primary means of meeting local energy needs will provide energy, environmental and economic security to our community, potentially including:

  • Less reliance on energy sources from outside the area and from foreign sources.
  • More predictable, less volatile energy prices.
  • Less reliance on fossil fuels and thus less susceptibility to the impacts of “peak oil.”
  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Creation of local jobs and local economic stimulus.
  • More money re-circulating in the local economy.

Because of these benefits, communities throughout the country are looking for ways to develop local energy resources and achieve a clean energy future.

Strategic Planning

Humboldt County has the ability to lead the way toward a sustainable energy future by using local renewable resources to meet the majority of its electricity needs and a large portion of its heating and transportation energy needs.  However, to accomplish this task effectively, efficiently, and economically will require comprehensive planning.  Such a planning effort should consider long-term implications and answer key questions, such as “Which resources can be developed most cost-effectively? Does one resource complement another?  Can a combination of resources provide a more reliable and cost-effective solution than the development of just one resource?” The purpose of the RePower Humboldt study was to begin addressing these kinds of questions.  The study was a collaborative effort of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University (SERC), and the Pacific Gas & Electric Company. Principal funding came from the California Energy Commission, with match funding from each of the three participating organizations.

The RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan is a result of more than two years of research, analysis and community involvement.  The plan lays out an array of opportunities and recommends a set of actions that would create jobs, stimulate the local economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase local energy security.

Key recommendations in the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan include:
  • Aggressively pursue cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities
  • Support responsible wind energy development
  • Expand the use of biomass energy that is consistent with forest restoration needs and priorities
  • Develop infrastructure for and encourage the use of electric vehicles
  • Encourage development of distributed energy installations
  • Pursue options for local development and ownership of renewable energy projects, as well as local purchase of the power generated
  • Form an energy leadership group to move the plan forward.
Click on the links to the right to access the full document.

Community Scale Renewable Energy

Upon completion of the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan, the project team recieved a follow-on grant of $1.75 million from the CEC to put some of the proposed plan into action.  RCEA and SERC, along with a new project partner, the Blue Lake Rancheria, began this new effort, called RePowering Humboldt with Community Scale Renewable Energy, in August 2013 and it will run through March 2015.

The project is meant to demonstrate and validate key aspects of the RePower Humboldt Strategic Plan, including the availability of biomass as a key resource, and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles and heat pumps as critical to cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The two main elements of the project include the design and installation of a "first-of-its-kind woody biomass gasifier and fuel cell power system" led by SERC and the Blue Lake Rancheria, and a community-based energy upgrade program- the Mad River Valley Community Pilot Project- led by RCEA.

Please see the full news announcement from SERC here, as well as news and updates on the biomass project.