MCSD pursues solar micro-grid

Jack Durham
Mad River Union

McKINLEYVILLE – The McKinleyville Community Services District plans to build its own electrical micro-grid in an effort to power its sewer plant and save money.

The MCSD Board of Directors voted unanimously Feb. 5 to enter into a nearly $2 million contract with Ameresco to design and build a giant solar array with battery storage and associated equipment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant at Hiller Park. The contract includes $12,000 a year for nine years of operation and maintenance. 

MCSD Manager Greg Orsini said that the array may be designed to produce roughly .6 to .8 megawatts a day. The microgrid would include battery storage and would be connected with a diesel generator, used in emergencies. 

The goal, Orsini said, is for the sewer plant to reach net zero, meaning it would produce as much energy as it consumes. The goal is to have the system pay itself off in about 10 years.

Ameresco will start designing the project and it will likely be built sometime in 2021. Before that happens the district will hold public hearings on the design and location of the solar array.

Orsini said it is possible that part of the solar array will take a portion of the dog park at Hiller Park.