July 23, 2015 By
Microgrids get a federal push under a broad Congressional energy bill unveiled yesterday by U.S. Senate energy committee leaders after months of hearings.
The bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 elevates many of the issues that have already been spurring microgrid development in the United States — the need for resiliency, cybersecurity, energy efficiency, and remote access to electricity.
So far, states have been largely responsible for advancing the microgrid market, with New York alone pushing for $40 million in community microgrid development. But if passed by Congress, the bill could mark a new federal role.
Both grid-connected and remote microgrids would receive support under the legislation.
Grid-connected microgrids would be eligible for grants to improve grid efficiency and performance. Specifically, the grants would focus on improving observability, advanced controls, and prediction of system performance on the electric distribution system. The projects would include a cybersecurity element.
Grant applications would be accepted from partnerships of utilities, private companies, states, national labs, grid operators and universities. Each project would include at least two distributed energy resources, specifically distributed generation, combined heat and power, microgrids, energy storage, electric vehicles, energy efficiency, demand response, and intelligent load.
To promote remote microgrids — what the bill calls hybrid microgrid systems — the federal government could create demonstration projects under a five-phase strategy, starting with a feasibility study and ending with a cost-benefit analysis. For full article.