DOE Invests up to $50M for Microgrids, Grid Resilience & Cybersecurity

Sept. 12, 2017
The Department of Energy didn’t mention microgrids much in a recent report on grid reliability, but it did back the technology today in a $50 million energy resilience and cybersecurity package

The Department of Energy didn’t mention microgrids much in a recent report on grid reliability, but it did back the technology today in a $50 million energy resilience and security package.

The money will go to the DOE’s national laboratories for early research on tools – including microgrids – to help communities recover from the kind of devastation wrought in recent weeks by hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

“As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling,” said Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, in a statement released with the announcement.

$32 million for grid resilience

In all, up to $32 million of the funds will be applied to seven ‘Resilient Distribution Systems’ projects, including more than $12 million for two microgrids.

One microgrid award will go toward developing multiple networked microgrids, energy storage, and early-stage grid technologies for the Alaskan grid. Using zonal approaches in multiple loosely and tightly networked microgrids, the project aims to increase grid resilience under harsh weather and cyber-threats.

The project team includes Siemens, Washington State University, Florida State University, New Mexico State University, Microgrid Solutions, City of Cordova, Cordova Electric Cooperative, Alaska Center for Energy and Power and the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative. The research labs involved are Idaho National Lab, Sandia National Lab and Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL).

The project will receive $6.2 million over three years.

The second microgrid project, which will receive $6 million over three years, will explore how to accelerate the deployment of resilient and secure distribution concepts through the flexible operation of traditional assets, distributed energy resources, and microgrids using OpenFMB (aka field message bus).

Project participants include Anderson Civic Center, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Avista Utilities, Duke Energy, GE Grid Solutions, University of North Carolina Charlotte, University of Tennessee and Smart Electric Power Alliance. The research labs are Oak Ridge, the National Lab, National Renewable Energy Lab and PNNL.

A full list of the grid resilience projects is available on the DOE website.

$20 million for cybersecurity, microgrids

In addition to the grid resilience awards, the DOE announced $20 million to bring greater cybersecurity to the electric grid and oil and natural gas infrastructure.

One project will focus on developing a cyber-attack-resilient architecture for next-generation electricity distribution systems that use distributed energy resources and microgrids to improve reliability.

Project partners include Eaton, the Illinois Institute of Technology, Southern Methodist University, Commonwealth Edison, PJM Interconnection, and the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center.

A detailed list of the 20 cybersecurity projects selected for awards is available here.

Since 2010, the DOE has invested more than $270 million in cybersecurity research, development, and demonstration projects that are led by industry, universities, and DOE’s National Laboratories.

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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, 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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