Community Leaders Celebrate the Launch of First Microgrid in San Juan Islands

Orcas Power & Light Cooperative today announced the launch of a microgrid, with the help of Governor Inslee and U.S. Department of Energy Director of Energy Storage Research Imre Gyuk. Expected to be the first of many, the microgrid features battery energy storage designed by global engineering firm HDR, which ties into a community solar project to provide enough energy to power 500 homes.

“Some people think of clean energy as only working in urban big cities,” said Governor Inslee while speaking with representatives from Orcas Power & Light Cooperative. “You’ve proven it’s actually super effective in smaller communities.”

Recognized by Fast Company as a 2020 World Changing Ideas Award Honorable Mention, the Decatur Island Battery Energy Storage System establishes a baseline of energy independence using clean, renewable energy. Intermittent energy generated from the solar array will be stored and dispatched using a controlled, strategic system capable of supplying four hours of backup power during an outage. The project also extends the life of the submarine cable that serves as the islands’ main energy source and reduces energy use during peak load time, decreasing rates for Orcas Power & Light Cooperative’s customers.

“It’s exciting to see our renewable energy team take part in building a reliable, low-carbon future for residents in the San Juan Islands,” said Lisa Larson, vice president at HDR. “Our project managers, Vikas Bhargava and Lukas Rowland, listened to the needs Orcas Power & Light Cooperative brought forth, and worked collaboratively to deliver a project worth replicating.” 

The project was partially funded by a $1 million grid modernization grant awarded to Orcas Power & Light Cooperative as part of Washington Clean Energy Fund II, a program to support clean energy projects in the state.

About HDR

For over a century, HDR has partnered with clients to shape communities and push the boundaries of what’s possible. Our expertise spans more than 10,000 employees in more than 200 locations around the world — and counting. Our engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services bring an impressive breadth of knowledge to every project. Our optimistic approach to finding innovative solutions defined our past and drives our future.