The smart grid system of the Santa Rita Jail integrates all of its on-site generation and advanced energy storage systems. It can power 100 percent of the jail’s electrical needs during daylight hours.

The Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County was the first in the country to build its own smart grid. The jail can operate as an “island” separate from the main electric grid to save money by generating its own ultra-clean and renewable electricity when power rates are highest. The jail is the third-largest facility of its kind in California and the fifth-largest in the nation.

Several energy efficiency and renewable energy projects have been implemented since 2002, including solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines, a fuel cell cogeneration plant, an advanced energy storage system, and a 3,600 million British thermal units (BTU) solar hot water system.

The project includes: a 1.2 megawatt (MW) rooftop solar photovoltaic system; a 300 kilowatt (kW) solar tracking system; a 1 MW fuel cell power plant with heat recovery for facility hot water and space heating; and five 2.3 kW wind turbines.

Project funders include the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the California Public Utilities Commission. The project has also benefited from partnerships between public and private entities, including Alameda County’s General Services Agency, Chevron Energy Solutions, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the California Independent System Operator, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the University of Wisconsin.

See more information about Santa Rita Jail Smart Grid System.

Solar panels at Santa Rita Jail Santa Rita Jail fuel cell cogeneration plant Aerial view of the Santa Rita Jail

Photos of aerial view and fuel cell cogeneration plant courtesy of Alameda County. Photo of solar photovoltaic system courtesy of the California Energy Commission.



  • Reliable electricity for daily operations and security.

  • Islanding capability without the need to use emergency backup diesel generators.

  • Saves Alameda County approximately $100,000 per year in energy costs.

Type of Project

Smart grid, solar, wind, fuel cell, advanced energy storage, solar thermal


In operation.


Map of SantaRita Solar Electric Generating System in California


Alta Wind Energy Center


CleanWorld Sacramento BioDigester

Anaerobic digester

Desert Sunlight Solar Farm

Solar photovoltaic

Electric Vehicles International

Electric vehicle manufacturing

Public Electric Vehicle Charging at the South Coast Air Quality Management District

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure

Santa Rita Jail

Smart grid/solar/wind/fuel cell/advanced energy storage/solar thermal

UC Davis West Village

Zero net energy mixed use, multi-unit housing communities