Blue Lake Rancheria, a tribal reservation in northern California

Automation v. COVID-19: A microgrid controller takes action just in time

By: Siemens Corporate Communications

Can a viral pandemic cause the shutdown of a microgrid? Yes, potentially it can. But the microgrid at Blue Lake Rancheria, a tribal reservation in northern California, demonstrated how automation can save the day.


With many residents of Humboldt County restricting their movements and activities as part of the state-wide response to COVID-19, the lack of energy demand could create a potential backfeed of electricity in the Blue Lake system. The microgrid could have been at risk for tripping off—and shutting down completely. Then the automated controller stepped in: 

  • With its model-based approach, the controller can make informed predictions about changing energy demand and regulate how charged the microgrid becomes.
  • In late 2019, the Blue Lake microgrid went into “island mode” during regional rolling blackouts and was able to serve as an energy hub for local residents (see sidebar).
  • The microgrid, completed in 2017, is comprised of a solar-power array with battery energy storage and diesel generators as back-up, generating power for the Blue Lake casino and hotel.  

Read the full story on Microgrid Knowledge.