City of Seattle Celebrates Earth Day with Completion of Miller Community Center Microgrid Project

What better timing to celebrate the completion of the Miller Community Center Microgrid than Earth Day! Despite early showers, the sun arrived just in time for honored guests, Governor Jay Inslee and Mayor Bruce Harrell, to tour the project and deliver remarks. Our own Emeka Anyanwu hosted the tour with stops inside the center to discuss its importance to the neighborhood and view the artwork installed as part of the project. The group then moved outdoors to the secured area that houses the microgrid control system and battery storage for an in-depth look at the technology behind the project.

Seattle City Light Energy Innovation and Resources Officer Emeka Anywanwu providing a tour 
to Governor Jay Inslee of the microgrid at the Miller Community Center
Seattle City Light Energy Innovation and Resources Officer Emeka Anywanwu providing a tour
to Governor Jay Inslee of the microgrid at the Miller Community Center

This project was a collaborative effort between Seattle City Light and Seattle Parks and Recreation. It was funded in part by a $1.5 million Clean Energy Fund grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

“Our clean energy future has arrived, right here at the Miller Community Center,” Governor Inslee said. “The families and students in this community now have access to more reliable, resilient, carbon-free electricity. This is the kind of project we look forward to celebrating in neighborhoods all across Washington state.”

The Miller Community Center microgrid brings higher power reliability to the surrounding community by keeping the facility energized during a power outage. It helps to meet the City of Seattle’s goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through renewable (solar) energy and enhances the resiliency of Seattle’s electricity grid. 

Inside the battery storage system and control panel inside the microgrid enclosure
Inside the battery storage system and control panel inside the microgrid enclosure

“Seattle must set the example for the nation by responding to the climate crisis with bold innovation, good jobs, and support for our communities,” said Mayor Harrell. “This new installation reflects that urgent effort by providing clean electricity to the Miller Park Community Center. As we welcome President Biden to Seattle to celebrate Earth Day, we know collaboration, community partnership, and ambitious action define our One Seattle approach to ensuring a healthy and sustainable climate future.”

The project included the installation of 132 solar panels on the Miller Community Center’s roof, which send energy to a battery storage system. This system provides backup power storage for the community center during emergency events, such as a windstorm or unplanned power outage. When the electric grid is down, the microgrid generates and supplies power to the community center to keep the center’s services and communications operational. Other energy conservation measures included in the project were improved LED lighting, sensors, and an energy-efficient boiler.

Seattle City Light General Manager and CEO Debra Smith

“This pilot project is the first community-focused microgrid installation of its kind that City Light has undertaken,” said Debra Smith, General Manager and CEO of Seattle City Light. “It goes beyond just providing clean, reliable energy to the Miller Community Center but also gives residents peace of mind that in the event of a power outage they can gather at this location to charge devices and use the center’s facilities.”

The microgrid’s battery storage system has a total capacity of 200kW / 800kWh to provide at least 16 hours of backup power for 100% of the loads at Miller Community Center (70kW) when fully charged. City Light expects the batteries to provide at least 24 hours of power during an outage. Additional power can be captured as the panels will continue generating energy when the sun is up.

“On top of their many functions, Seattle’s community centers are open to the community in the event of an emergency,” said Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation. “With the addition of the microgrid, Seattle Parks and Recreation can now serve an even greater purpose that aligns with our value to be resilient in the face of climate change.”

Governor Inslee and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell viewing the artwork inside the Miller Community Center
Governor Inslee and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell viewing the artwork inside the Miller Community Center

Included in the project was a new interior art piece installed through a partnership with the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and City Light’s 1% for Art Fund. Artist, Julia Harrison, commissioned the piece with input from the Miller Park community. The artwork combines and celebrates solar energy and community.

The Miller Community Center is located on 19th Ave. E in Capitol Hill. The center is home to programs, activities and events for all ages and a wide diversity of participants.

For more information about the project, please visit Seattle City Light’s Miller Community Center Microgrid page.

Check out this video about the microgrid and the event from Seattle Channel!