Borrego Springs, California, is a quaint town of about 3,400 people set against the Anza-Borrego Desert about 90 miles east of San Diego. Summers are hot—often north of 100 degrees—and because it lies at the far end of a San Diego Gas & Electric transmission line, the town has suffered frequent power outages. High winds, lightning strikes, forest fires and flash floods can bust up that line and kill the electricity.
“If you’re on the very end of a utility line, everything that happens, happens 10 times worse for you,” says Mike Gravely, team leader for energy systems integration at the California Energy Commission.
The town has a lot of senior citizens, who can be frail in the heat. “Without air conditioning,” says Linda Haddock, head of the local Chamber of Commerce, “people will die.”
But today, Borrego Springs has a failsafe against power outages: a microgrid.
Resiliency is one of the main reasons the market in microgrids is booming, with installed capacity in the United States projected to more than double between 2017 and 2022, according to a new report on microgrids from GTM Research.