U.S. Governors See Microgrids and Energy Storage as a Path to Energy Assurance

Nov. 2, 2016
Microgrids and energy storage can help U.S. states assure energy supply during disasters, according to two papers recently issued by the National Governors Association (NGA).

Microgrids and energy storage can help U.S. states assure energy supply during disasters, according to two papers recently issued by the National Governors Association (NGA).

The papers emerged from an effort NGA undertook last year to identify best energy practices that have emerged from Superstorm Sandy.

A six-state team studied lessons learned from New Jersey after being pummeled by the storm in 2012. The teams, from Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Rhode Island, then went on to create action items to guide their own state efforts.

The action items are described in the paper, “Improving State Coordination for Energy Assurance Planning and Response.”

Among other things, the states are exploring the feasibility of using microgrids and other forms of distributed energy resources, creating robust energy plans, improving utility/government communications, and cataloging critical energy assets.

For example, Rhode Island is working to identify microgrid sites as part of a statewide program, according to the report. The New England state is funding the microgrid effort with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The report also noted that as a result of Sandy, NJ Transit is developing a microgrid to power the transit system during outages, NJ Transit, the nation’s third largest provider of bus, rail and light rail transit, is partnering on the project with New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Transit Administration.

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Microgrids and energy storage

The second report, “State Strategies for Advancing the Use of Energy Storage,” describes energy storage as “a game changer for transforming the electric power grid into one that is cleaner, lower cost, more resilient, more reliable and more distributed.”

The report offers several ways states can incorporate energy storage into planning efforts, including:

  • Recognize the multiple benefits of storage in state regulations;
  • Develop streamlined siting, approval and interconnection processes for energy storage
  • Adopt state utility procurement targets for energy storage capacity
  • Encourage the incorporation of storage into energy assurance efforts
  • Create financial incentive programs for energy storage
  • Promote research and development efforts for grid operations with energy storage

Multiple states have integrated storage into research or pilot programs aimed at promoting energy assurance, some as microgrid projects, the report said.

The paper described microgrid and energy storage incentive programs offered by Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protecition and the New Jersey BPU. It also gave a shout out to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for installing solar plus storage at 115 emergency shelters by the

The reports are available free of charge on NGA’s website.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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