Why Maryland is a State to Watch When it Comes to Microgrids: Next Round of Funding Available

Sept. 25, 2020
Without the ballyhoo of other states — no wildfires, blackouts, grid collapses or big budget pilots — Maryland is quietly carving out a place among the key states backing microgrids.

While natural disasters and grid deficiencies make places like California and Puerto Rico focal points for microgrids, Maryland is quietly emerging as another key state because of its resilience grants.

Just four months after awarding seed money for 14 microgrids, the state is looking for more projects. The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) is now accepting applications for its 2021 competitive grants through Resilient Maryland. Proposals are due January 29, 2021.

Maryland’s budget is relatively small — it allotted $1.03 million to the first group in June. But it’s vision is big. The state agency hopes the grant program — combined with private funds —  will help move microgrid technology toward greater replicability, a holy grail of the industry nationally as it strives to scale microgrids. 

Maryland is among a handful of states working to boost microgrid development. Others include California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and the US territory of Puerto Rico. 

Public/private partnerships

In recent years the state has been spared the kind of wildfires, earthquakes and hurricanes that are now spurring microgrids elsewhere. But in 2012 its largest county experienced a wake up call with a violent derecho that knocked out power to 480,000  residents for several days. In response,  Montgomery County developed two advanced microgrids at public facilities. 

The Montgomery County microgrids were built in a public-private partnership with Duke Energy Renewables and Schneider Electric. Like the county, the state is looking to attract private investment by jumpstarting the projects with public funds. The $600,000 in grant money for 2021 will go toward feasibility analysis, planning, and design of cost-effective, replicable and scalable projects. 

“Powering Maryland’s clean energy future is an essential collaboration between the public and private sector,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Maryland continues to lead by example and we are proud to dedicate resources that serve our community in these challenging economic conditions.”

The $600,000 for microgrids is part of a larger $5 million round of grants that will also fund combined heat and power and parking lot solar photovoltaic canopy projects with electric vehicle chargers.

Maryland expects to announce the winners for 2021 in the first quarter of next year. Details about the grants and application process are available on MEA’s site.

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