Fort Custer Plans a Demonstration Microgrid to Reduce Energy Surety Costs

April 4, 2017
The U.S. Department of Defense plans to develop a demonstration microgrid project at the Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan aimed at reducing costs for energy surety.

The U.S. Department of Defense plans to develop a demonstration microgrid project at the Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan aimed at reducing costs for energy surety where military facilities are in close proximity to each other.

Advanced technology developer Electricore will lead the project with support from power company Eaton and local utility Consumers Energy. The Michigan Army National Guard will serve as project host.

When completed next year, the project is expected to enhance power surety, energy resilience, distributed generation management and demand response, while contributing to the critical power needs of nearby military installations.

The microgrid will include 1.375 MW of legacy diesel generators, as well as 400 kW of energy storage and 720 kW of photovoltaics (PV).

The project will test advanced microgrid control features, such as automated power quality management, real-time response to grid conditions and control of energy storage assets.

While islanded, the demonstration microgrid will serve the command, training and support facilities at the military base. The project should be able provide power to the base for 120 consecutive hours with a 1 MW base demand and a peak demand up to 2 MW for 4 continuous hours. That said, the microgrid is designed to run indefinitely based on renewable generation, available fuel and demand.

Any excess energy produced by the microgrid will be exported to the utility by the existing distribution feeder. A 27 kV recloser will be added to the incoming utility line. The exported energy will serve customers on the utility feeder and substation.

Consumers Energy is providing PV and supporting the project with the interconnect and parallel operating approval process, consulting the design team with integration considerations, and providing information to ensure the effectiveness of the design.

The DOD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) funded the project to demonstrate the ability of microgrids to offer continuous power to critical resources during extended outages. The project will also showcase the sharing of resources between Ft. Custer, a federally owned and state-operated Michigan Army National Guard training facility, and nearby federal facilities.

The DOD expects to complete the demonstration microgrid for final system testing in March 2018.

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“The microgrid project at Ft. Custer will help the Department of Defense establish a replicable model for reducing the overall cost to implement energy surety goals in sites where bases are closely located,” said William Murch, director of service for Eaton’s microgrid energy system’s business. “Eaton understands the challenges associated with deploying grid-dependent power systems and will leverage our experience to help Ft. Custer achieve a secure, reliable microgrid system.”

Eaton’s Electrical Engineering Services and Systems team will provide turnkey engineering services and power management solutions, including: equipment upgrades; installation of additional energy storage and natural gas generation resources; and implementation of microgrid control and communication components. The project will also incorporate Eaton’s Power Xpert Energy OptimizerTM controller.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

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

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