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NEWS | Sept. 2, 2021

Groundbreaking ceremony on modernization

By Spc. Kenneth Rodriguez 63rd Readiness Division

Parks Reserve Forces Training Area (PRFTA) conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 19, 2021, for a modular micro-grid system. This would be the first of this kind of modular micro-grid within the U.S. and on a Department of Defense site. As a result of the microgrid system, PRFTA would become a net-zero installation and surpass the 14-day resilience requirement for critical operations.

Most Installations with a microgrid have one large voltage distribution circuit. The difference which makes the PRFTA micro grid unique is that this system will be composed of 10 individual nodes. Each node will be one module capable of operating by itself or in tandem with the other nodes.

“Each node consists of low voltage, medium voltage switch care, an array, and batteries that will collectively provide resilience,” said Reshma Singh program director at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

The microgrid will generate enough energy to run critical facilities for at least 14-days. It comes from an on-site two-megawatt solar array and battery storage systems.

“This project speaks volumes on how the Army Reserves is taking steps in its pursuit of modern solutions to optimize the use of available energy,” said Maj. Gen. Alberto Rosende, commanding general, 63rd Readiness Division

Energy access is essential for the Army Reserve's resilience, and if the energy supply is interrupted, the PRFTA micro-grid produces the power needed to perform critical tasks.

“With energy independence, PRFTA would be able to sustain itself without any help if something were to happen outside the gate,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick McKie, command sergeant major, 63rd Readiness Division.

As the environment shifts, the Army Reserve continues to look for modern ways to become more efficient with resources.

“Net-zero allows us, the U.S. Army Reserve, to save money. The lights and water are not free. It's paid for by taxpayer dollars,” said McKie. “We can reinvest the money in readiness. It's a win for everybody.”

Energy and water resilience or the uninterrupted access to these sources ensures Army Reserve Soldiers have the resources needed to maintain operations while supporting federal agencies during natural disasters or other disruptions.

“In California, you have wildfires and blackouts,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Mackenzie, command sergeant major, PRFTA. “When wildfires and blackouts occur, it affects multiple units. It interrupts training and other important activities. To have our sustainability, this is important to the Army and its readiness.”

Threats to energy are constantly rising, political and economic instabilities in oil-producing regions, impacts of attacks against infrastructure, and even the effects of natural disasters all endanger our invaluable resources.

“As we store power, we will be able to give power back to our community,” said Jose Rodriguez, deputy to the garrison commander at PRFTA.

Rodriguez spoke about the modernization significance of the microgrid not only for PRFTA but the surrounding community and the positive impact this kind of system would potentially have.

“We are excited to see the project moving forward and see how the base changes as it moves into the future," said Rodriguez.

USAR actively pursues modern solutions like microgrids with battery storage, renewable energy, and innovative waste-to-energy producing systems.