Xcel Energy to Build 7 Community Microgrids. Negotiating with Siemens and Fluence

Jan. 16, 2020
Xcel Energy is seeking regulatory approval to develop seven microgrids, at a cost of $23.4 million. The microgrids emerged from a community resilience solicitation that the Colorado utility issued in May.

Xcel Energy is seeking regulatory approval to move forward with seven microgrids, at a cost to the utility of $23.4 million, chosen from a community resilience solicitation that the Colorado utility issued in May.

The microgrids will serve the Denver International Airport Automated Guideway Transit System; National Western Center; Denver Rescue Mission’s Lawrence Street Community Center; City of Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities; Town of Nederland Community Center; Summit County Middle School; and Alamosa Family Recreation Center. 

The petition for approval and cost recovery is before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (Proceeding 19A-0225E).

Denver, Colorado. Photo by f11photo/Shutterstock.com

The solicitation netted 20 proposals from 13 communities across Xcel’s service territory. In selecting winners, the utility looked for applicants with emergency services that would benefit from microgrids. Finalists were scored based on a system that gave 50 points for project feasibility, 20 points for societal benefit and 30 points for grid benefits.

After choosing the communities, Xcel issued another solicitation in September for the microgrids’ batteries and related technology. The solicitation went out to 10 battery system integrators and five microgrid providers. From there, the utility began negotiations with Siemens and Fluence, a joint venture of Siemens and AES.

Charles Gouin, Xcel Energy business technology consultant, said in the testimony that Xcel selected Siemens and Fluence for negotiatons “based on system performance, a strong track record, and a lower price point.”

The $23.4 million cost applies to four categories: medium voltage work, battery energy system, systems integration and operations and maintenance, Gouin said.

Xcel will provide 6 MW/15 MWh of energy storage for the microgrids. The communities will supply solar and back-up generators. Some of the communities already have the generating assets, Gouin said, while others will add solar, expanding the renewable energy on the utility’s system.

The utility sees the projects as a way to learn more about microgrid development and operation after already gaining some experience by building the Panasonic microgrid, which went into operation in 2017. Gouin said Xcel incorporated many of the lessons learned from the Panasonic project into the conceptual design work completed to date on the seven microgrids.

Meet partners and prospects at Microgrid 2020, June 2-3 in Philadelphia. Register by Jan. 31 and save $400

“Planning for resiliency continues to emerge as an important issue for our communities and we are pleased to help demonstrate how emerging technologies such as solar and storage can play an important role in helping back up critical facilities,” said Gouin in the testimony. “In the future, projects like these may help inform our distribution planning process.”

Each of the microgrids serves as a community resilience center.

Growing need for resilience

“The concept of community resiliency is becoming more relevant as, across the country, Americans seek to navigate the risks posed by extreme weather events or other disruptions,” said Jack Ihle, director, regulatory and strategic analysis at Xcel, who also testified in the proceeding.

“Typically, these resiliency centers are existing structures, services, and/or facilities considered crucial to the community (e.g., first responder facilities, wastewater treatment facilities, evacuation and shelter areas, communications and traffic safety infrastructure, etc.),” Ihle added. “Energy storage systems — like those that would be acquired pursuant to the Initiative — are an effective way to ensure Colorado’s citizens remain secure in the face of emergency situations.”

The microgrid projects have their roots in a law signed in June 2018 by Gov. Hickenlooper that allows electric utilities to develop up to 15 MW of energy storage.

Xcel plans to begin building the community microgrids in January 2021 and expects them to be completed within 18 months.


Who the seven microgrids will serve

(Excerpt from Xcel Energy testimony)

Denver International Airport Automated Guideway Transit System (AGTS)

The AGTS is the primary means to move passengers between the main terminal and the three airport concourses at Denver International Airport. Even a short disruption in electrical service can cause delays at Denver International Airport. Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the country, and therefore these delays can impact air traffic nationally and internationally with attendant economic impacts. Without this system in operation, the capacity to move passengers around the airport is limited by roughly 80 percent, which impacts the airport’s ability to continue aircraft operations, provide adequate care and services for passengers, and evacuate passengers from areas that pose dangers to health and safety. 

The National Western Center

The National Western Center is a large (more than 600,000 square feet) multi-building, multi-purpose campus currently under construction in the northeast part of Denver. This facility will house the annual National Western Stock Show as well as numerous other events throughout the year, and these events – in particular the National Western Stock Show – are economic drivers for both the Denver area and State of Colorado. In addition to its role as a host for these key regional and national events, the National Western Center is targeted to be a hub for emergency management purposes as its indoor and surrounding outdoor spaces are ideal for a variety of emergency management needs, such as food  distribution, medical services, and sleeping quarters.

Denver Rescue Mission

The Denver Rescue Mission located in downtown Denver provides basic human needs such as food and shelter to some of our community’s most vulnerable members. As part of the Denver Rescue Mission, the Community Center provides a place of warm refuge and serves over 1,200 meals daily. Without  such a place, over 1,000 individuals would be on the streets each day, exposed to the elements and without access to food. 

The City of Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities

The City of Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities is a mixed-use cultural facility that houses galleries and exhibits, and hosts a variety of concerts, theatrical performances, and events throughout the year. The facility is a critical part of the City of Arvada’s resiliency plan. As outlined in the City of Arvada’s Disaster Recovery Plan, the Arvada Center will serve as shelter and/or a Recovery Resource Hub following a disaster (including an extended disruption of power).

The Town of Nederland’s Community Center

The Town of Nederland’s Community Center is the primary evacuation shelter for  western Boulder County and along the Peak to Peak Highway. The facility can accommodate up to 1,000 residents for emergency shelter operations.

Summit County Middle School

Summit County Middle School is a part of Summit School District and is located in Frisco, Colorado. The school serves 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students, and is a key part of Summit County’s resiliency plan as it is designated as its emergency shelter. In addition to the local community’s planning, it is frequently used as a shelter for stranded motorists during road closures on nearby I-70 during adverse weather conditions. 

The Alamosa Family Recreation Center

The Alamosa Family Recreation Center is a community gathering place housing meeting rooms, an athletic center, and a gymnasium. The Recreation Center is also the emergency shelter for both the City and County of Alamosa. As recently as the summer of 2018, the Alamosa Family Recreation Center was used as the evacuation center for citizens forced to leave their homes due to a large fire in Alamosa.


Track news about microgrid projects. Subscribe to the free Microgrid Knowledge newsletter.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of EnergyChangemakers.com. She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.

Exploring the Potential of Community Microgrids Through Three Innovative Case Studies

April 8, 2024
Community microgrids represent a burgeoning solution to meet the energy needs of localized areas and regions. These microgrids are clusters of interconnected energy resources,...

Mgk Dcf Wp Cover3 2023 01 09 10 34 33

Data Center Microgrids: Implementing Your Microgrid

Beyond providing energy resilience, a microgrid brings additional energy management, cost and sustainability benefits. These features are making microgrids increasingly attractive...