If California is lucky, our energy future could look like a small town in the rural Salinas Valley....
The town in question is Gonzales, the California municipal version of the “Little Engine That Could.” Its small, working-class population of just 9,000, many of them farmworkers, has ingeniously solved tricky local government problems, from universal broadband to health care access, and from economic planning to child development.
Now Gonzales is tackling one of our state’s most stubborn challenges: how to develop local sources of cleaner, cheaper and more reliable power as our state’s aging energy grid falters.
Tiny Gonzales’ solution? Creating the largest multi-customer microgrid in California. In essence, Gonzales is building its own electricity island among the vegetable fields of the Central Coast to guarantee uninterrupted power, from mostly renewable sources, for the agricultural and industrial businesses that provide the tax base to support its ambitious local programs.