Stone Edge Farm Winery’s MicroGrid is an open-source living laboratory and the vision of one couple.
Leslie and Mac McQuown purchased the first of five contiguous parcels that became Stone Edge Farm in 1995. The seven separate electrical services on this property and the family’s wish to route energy efficiently were the genesis of the MicroGrid (see History).
The McQuowns began the MicroGrid with solar panel installations. Resolving to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint by half, they exceeded their goal in one year. Next they decided to explore how far below zero emissions they could go while testing new technologies and business models.
Mac McQuown led a team that created the first stock index fund, and he founded numerous entrepreneurial financial service and winery companies. A former naval officer, he has served on the board of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for 18 years.
Leslie McQuown is by inclination and education an interior and exterior designer. Her aesthetic vision informs the architecture, art installations, and landscaping of Stone Edge Farm. The McQuowns are dedicated to addressing the issue of climate change.
Troy Wooster, CEO of Omni Energy Solutions (formerly Wooster Energy Engineering), worked on the MicroGrid since its inception and is the current contractor. His background is in engineering, electronics, construction, and management.
Craig Wooster, late CEO of Wooster Energy Engineering, was general contractor for the MicroGrid for over five years. He assembled and managed the team that created the MicroGrid. His legacy is continued by his son, Troy.
The Stone Edge Farm MicroGrid is a real world laboratory that deploys diverse technologies to demonstrate the concept of a sub-zero carbon footprint and to introduce a new business model.
Since the project’s inception, the McQuowns paid interns from high school to post-doctoral levels to attack the energy paradigm on many levels. Interns were given broad direction and empowered to seek carbon reduction solutions without fear of failure.
The first intern hired, Jorge Elizondo, then a doctoral student at M.I.T., developed an innovative control system to integrate the MicroGrid’s assets and optimize efficiency. Both Jorge and Ryan Stoltenberg, who joined Wooster in 2014 and earned his MS from Cal State University, Chico, in 2018, now work with the MicroGrid as part of Heila Technologies.