Wind/solar/biofuel microgrid brings electric power to isolated border community

The Texas Observer is reporting on a collaboration between state agencies and Austin area battery developer Xtreme Power Inc. to bring electric power to the previously unserved colonia of La Presa near Laredo.

The power plant, if it can be called that, consists of a trailer parked on the corner of someone’s property, loaded with super-efficient batteries and a generator that runs on biodiesel or ethanol. Inside the trailer, a computer monitors the power as it flows to each home, sending the data in real-time to Xtreme’s headquarters in Kyle. Perched on top of the trailer is a panel of photovoltaic cells that capture solar energy. A 30-foot-tall wind turbine whirs nearby. Biofuel, wind, and solar work like three legs of a stool, providing a continuous supply of energy, about 2 kilowatts to each home. Each setup costs between $50,000 and $100,000.

The bad news for residents: electric power, free so far, could soon cost over twice as much as grid power in Laredo. And water and sewer service are still years away.

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