ACEP and community partners present at EARNEST kickoff

Alaska representatives pose for a photo at EARNEST kickoff meeting.
Photo courtesy of Paul McKinley
Alaska representatives pose for a photo at EARNEST kickoff meeting. From left, Paul McKinley of ACEP, Dan Sambor of Stanford University and former ACEP researcher, Chad Nordlum of the Native Village of Kotzebue and Michelle Wilber of ACEP.

March 06, 2024

ACEP’s Michelle Wilber, Paul McKinley and community partners in Alaska shared their experience and planned project work at the kickoff of the U.S. Department of Energy EARNEST at Stanford University on January 30.

With Stanford as its leader, EARNEST, or Equitable, Affordable & Resilient Nationwide Energy System Transition, is a consortium of 17 universities and four national laboratories. Their effort focuses on improving grid resilience in communities of various scales across North America.

The consortium’s projects include development and testing of open-source, generalizable modeling tools that can be used in pilot studies in order to assess resilience at the regional and state level, within smaller isolated grid communities, and in neighborhoods and cities.

Wilber, a research engineer at ACEP and PI for the EARNEST microgrid team, gave a presentation at a technical session, “Solutions for Remote or Isolated Grids.”

Wilber presented the ACEP scope for EARNEST, which centers on microgrid optimization, long-duration energy storage for microgrid renewables and implementation of “demand choice” control systems. Demand choice control systems enables community input at the individual and household level so that excess energy generated by renewables will be applied to their highest priority.

The plenary session, “Co-creation of Knowledge of Traditionally Underrepresented Communities,” featured Chad Nordlum, energy project manager for the Native Village of Kotzebue, which is ACEP’s community partner.

“The energy transition is an opportunity for tribes to be part of the solution and bring value to their communities,” Nordlum said, alongside panelists from Northwest Indian College, the California Environmental Justice Alliance and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Nordlum discussed the progress that Kotzebue has made already in deploying wind and solar resources as well as the ongoing challenges associated with continued reliance on imported fuel in the Northwest Arctic Borough.

As the projects within the EARNEST consortium officially get underway on a three-year timeline, ACEP will be working closely with community partners in Alaska as well as collaborators in Canada and Hawai'i to ensure that reliability and grid resilience strategies are developed to serve all communities regardless of size and geographic locations across the continent.