Quick Microgrid News…MLP for Microgrids?…LA’s Record-setting Microgrid Building…Latest New Microgrid Controller

June 25, 2015
Quick Microgrid News June 25…Another try in Congress to put distributed energy on par with big oil and gas…Electrical union retrofits LA training center into first-of-a-kind microgrid building…Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories introduces microgrid controller.

This week’s quick microgrid news…

Movement is afoot once again in Congress to give renewables and distributed energy a financial advantage afforded to big oil and gas for about three decades — the ability to form master limited partnerships or MLPs.

U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX-02) and Mike Thompson (D-CA-05) have re-introduced a bill that would modify the tax code allow various forms of clean energy to form MLPs.

The legislation is a big deal because MLPs are attractive to investors, since they can trade stock like a corporation but have the tax advantages of partnerships.  A big chunk of the $565 billion in MLP capital now in the market goes to mid-stream oil and gas pipeline projects. Clean energy advocates say it’s only fair to give clean tech the same advantage, especially since the U.S. is trying to increase its development.

MLPs are seen as a possible complement or even alternative to federal tax credits that are starting to ramp down for renewables and energy-efficient technologies.

“Today, mayors and CEO’s alike are seeking public/private partnerships to accelerate capital investment in district energy and combined heat & power microgrids to deliver more efficient and sustainable local energy solutions,” said Robert Thornton, president & CEO of the International District Energy Association. “The Master Limited Partnership Parity Act offers significant potential to catalyze growth of these community-scale clean energy resources.  By providing a new source of liquid private capital, the Act can play a vital role in strengthening the infrastructure of our nation’s cities, communities, institutions and military bases.”

The bill has the support from a wide-range of clean energy groups and businesses, as well as both Democrats and Republicans. But it’s been kicking around Congress for several years.

A summary of the bill is here.

***

Construction is underway of a 142,000 square-foot building microgrid in Los Angeles, which is aiming to be the largest ‘Net Zero Plus’ commercial building retrofit in the nation.

The Electrical Training Institute (ETI) will demonstrate the future of smart energy efficiency, microgrid system integration, energy storage solutions, and advanced lighting controls and automated building management system, according to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

The building will have the capacity to produce about 1 MW using no grid energy. The retrofit is reducing lighting usage by 46 percent and heating and cooling by 60 percent.

“Our operational microgrid, battery storage system and integrated energy technologies will provide hands-on training that is unprecedented at any other electrical training center,” said Marvin Kropke, business manager of IBEW Local 11. “The NZP ETI will set the standard for training as a replicable model for other electrical training centers around the country.”

The building will be a training, demonstration and testing center to help bring new energy technologies to market.

***

Competition is heating up to capture the market for microgrid controller — the key smarts of the microgrid. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) is the latest to introduce a new system.

SEL says its microgrid controller can respond to external data, such as real-time pricing signals and fast-changing system dynamics. As a result, the microgrid controller can optimize the system configuration based on the microgrid user’s priorities and real-time data. The controller creates the opportunity to prioritize for economic dispatch, carbon footprint minimization, renewable integration, system resiliency and other scenarios. It also can provide front-end engineering and design for microgrid pre-project planning, according to SEL.

“Microgrids have low inertia, which means they need relay-speed SEL microgrid controllers,” said Bob Morris, SEL vice president of national operations. “SEL microgrid solutions combine dependable computing and communications to provide high-performance microgrid control, including adaptive relaying, synchrophasors, and cybersecurity.”

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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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