Black & Veatch Brings Engineering Expertise to Santa Rita, California, Schools' Debut of Solar-Plus-Sharp SmartStorage Microgrids

15 May 2018

California's most abundant resource, combined with precedent-setting integration of battery storage, will help a school district dramatically reduce its utility bills and build new defenses against outages. Black & Veatch announced its role alongside Sharp Electronics Corporation’s Energy Systems and Services Group in engineering six sites of solar photovoltaic (PV) and SmartStorage energy systems in the Santa Rita Union School District (SRUSD) in Salinas, California.

The systems include one megawatt of solar PV integrated with 1.1 MWh of Sharp’s SmartStorage® behind-the-meter energy storage systems. The project was developed by SolEd Benefit Corporation, engineered by Sharp and Black & Veatch, constructed by MBL Energy and financed by Generate Capital.

“On-site generation and storage is a growing trend among businesses and mission-critical facilities such as schools and electrified transportation fleet deployments,” said Paul Stith, Director of Strategy & Innovation for Black & Veatch’s Transformative Technologies business. “We’ve seen solar and battery costs drop significantly, which makes these solutions affordable, and with them agencies and owners have more predictable utility bills, which is important to organizations like school districts that work with very fixed budgets.”

Incentive programs also enable new and emerging distributed industry resources. The California Public Utilities Commission’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) provides dollars for customer-sited energy storage for low-income communities, commercial, and educational and government institutions. Other states with incentive programs include Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii.

Federal incentives also aid renewable energy and storage projects. Commercial properties may qualify for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for installing designated renewable energy generation equipment, along with storage. In addition, financing partners, like Generate Capital on the Santa Rita Union School District project, can provide funds to launch the efforts and unlock savings.

“Initiatives like the one in Salinas are about teams coming together to innovate and create positive change,” Stith said. “By taking advantage of all the resources available to them, the school district is setting itself up for the clean-energy future and in the process adding community resiliency.”

Black & Veatch engineers worked with the project team to integrate the solar and storage systems, and according to Kirk Stokes, Director of Development for Sharp Electronics Corporation’s Energy Systems and Services Group, the company’s utility experience, relationships and knowledge greatly impacted the project’s success.

“Black & Veatch’s work and credibility were invaluable to this precedent-setting microgrid project,” Stokes said. “Their expertise was expected, but their reliability and extra effort provided the support needed for this first-of-a-kind project.”

Black & Veatch | 

Sharp Electronics Corporation |