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A multi-organization team led by SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab has proposed the Whole Energy Systems Transitions (WEST) project for funding through a new program in New Mexico, the Collaborative Zone Grants. Created by three leading local philanthropies, the McCune, Thornburg, and Santa Fe Community Foundations, the grant “…is an opportunity for collaborations of organizations and other entities to apply together for multi-year funding to test, prove and support approaches to New Mexico’s challenges that extend beyond the mission of any single organization.”

The WEST proposal addresses the funders’ framing question, “What would an equitable energy transition look like for New Mexico communities?” Within that framework, the main issue the project seeks to address is that NM’s transition to a 21stcentury energy system – which we define as sustainable, resilient, and equitable – will have both universal impacts on all New Mexicans (primarily due to economic diversification from the state’s reliance on fossil fuel production), and also diverse impacts on the various different types and sizes of communities (rural, urban, traditional, Native American), and depending on their economic base and vitality. Read the rest of this entry »

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is collaborating with SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL), a partnership with Santa Fe Community College (SFCC), in their efforts to develop an advanced campus-wide microgrid for training, research, and testing and validation. NREL is a member of MSL, and SFCC is a founding MSL partner with responsibility for workforce and professional development initiatives.

The campus microgrid will be a state-of-the-art facility, unique among community colleges and comparable to university campus installations, with an emphasis on supporting the college’s educational mission, sustainability goals, operational efficiencies, and MSL’s strategic objectives. It will link existing assets, including a 1.5 megawatt photovoltaic array and a district heating and cooling system, with new technology that is capable of demonstrating the full range of advanced microgrid functionality. Read the rest of this entry »

The Microgrid Systems Laboratory (MSL), an SFIP joint venture with Santa Fe Community College, was pleased to help develop and participate in the Santa Fe Energy Summit of August, 2015. Convened by U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich, in collaboration with Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzalez, the Summit “…brought together experts, business and tribal leaders, public officials, and decision makers to advance the clean energy economy in northern New Mexico through innovation, investment, smart policies, and collaboration.” Senator Heinrich sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and has proposed and promoted legislation bearing on several aspects of grid modernization.MSL logo

MSL Managing Director David Breecker worked with staff at the City and the Senator’s New Mexico office to help plan and design the event. MSL was then asked to form a Microgrid Panel as one of three break-out sessions (along with Tribal Energy and the Energy/Water Nexus), which met following keynote remarks from the Senator, and from distinguished guest DOE Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. Video of the keynotes, including the Senator’s extensive discussion of the value of microgrids and MSL’s contributions, can be seen here, and a radio interview with the Senator and Mayor can be heard here. Read the rest of this entry »

SFIP’s Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL) recently took a significant step toward fulfilling the goal of integrating creative problem solving techniques with challenges and processes in other domains. The following post originally appeared in the MSL news blog on May 5, 2014:

In support of its human factors work on the DOE-India microgrid pilot feasibility study, MSL convened a cross-sector workshop of a dozen experts drawn from a broad range of  relevant disciplines and on-the-ground experience. The highly successful workshop was co-facilitated and hosted by the Santa Fe Art Institute (an affiliate of MSL partner institution the Santa Fe Innovation Park) and its director Sanjit Sethi, an expert in “design thinking” and its application to many problem-solving settings. It featured a user-centered design approach to the Human, Social, and Cultural (“HSC”) factors bearing on successful technology and energy projects in rural community settings. Joining Sanjit in leading the session were MSL General Manager David Breecker, and Christian Casillas, who recently completed his Ph.D. at the Energy and Resources Group of the University of California, Berkeley. Christian did his field work in community participatory energy planning in Nicaragua, and also has practical experience in India. Read the rest of this entry »

The St. Michael’s Corridor Revitalization Initiative

SFIP is pleased to lead the renewable energy component of Santa Fe’s RE:MIKE initiative, under its Microgrid Innovation Lab. This initiative, which is designed to catalyze the revitalization of a “Central Santa Fe” district, kicks off with “a participatory festival-style public event on September 21, 22 & 23: A pop-up previtalization of Central Santa Fe.” The RE:ENERGIZE component will feature pop-up renewable generation and infrastructure; an “Energy Village” with displays, electric vehicles, and passive efficiency techniques; a Smart Home demo; and an exploration of what a future “neighborhood energy network” might look like. A fuller description from the initiative’s website follows: Read the rest of this entry »

Those of you following our Microgrid Lab project know that we’re interested in supporting the United Nations Foundation on the U.N.’s “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, one of the most important efforts imaginable. As described on its website:

Energy is central to nearly every major challenge, and opportunity the world faces today. Be it jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to sustainable energy for all is essential for strengthening economies, protecting ecosystems and achieving equity.  Read the rest of this entry »

In 2006, Colin Beavan decided he wanted to do something about climate change, U.S. oil consumption, and its military campaigns in the Middle East.  And if that’s not systemic enough, he also decided that (as a journalist) simply writing about it was not going to do any good.  Instead, in his own words, “I wanted to find a way to engage Americans  who were not typically interested in politics. For this reason, I wanted to draw people in through the power of story instead of polemic.”

So he and his family lived for a year in the middle of Manhattan in such a way as to cause as little impact as possible, which yielded surprisingly  popular blog posts, a book, and a documentary film.  The “No Impact Man” recently summarized the lessons he learned about how (and how not) to engage people in the climate crisis, a set of learnings so creative and interesting we’ve reproduced them here: Read the rest of this entry »

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