Microgrid Policy, Benefits to be Explored This Week at IDEA’s Campus Energy 2015

Feb. 9, 2015
Microgrid policy and benefits will be the focus of a special workshop at this week’s Campus Energy 2015, held by the International District Energy Association in Denver, Colorado.

Microgrid policy will be among topics discussed at a special workshop offered during this week’s Campus Energy 2015, held by the International District Energy Association in Denver, Colorado.

The February 10 workshop, “Microgrids and Electrical Distribution Systems,” will focus on policy, benefits, industry vocabulary, measurement and metrics, design, case studies and working with utilities.

The workshop comes as policy efforts pick up in various states, which C. Baird Brown, a partner with Drinker Biddle & Reath, will explain.

Brown will describe policy approaches that foster microgrid development. These include:

  • Determining what services microgrids provide to the grid and what services the grid provides to microgrids — and how to price the services fairly
  • Using decoupling and incentive ratemaking to compensate utilities fairly and create the correct market signals
  • Adopting policies that do not discriminate, but create a level playing field for customers, third party providers, and unregulated utility affiliates with respect to the ownership and operation of microgrids.
  • Eliminating barriers to competition and customer choice

Policy should allow “equal opportunity for all,” Brown said in a recent interview. Right now, such equality does not exist because rules in many states prohibit microgrids from crossing utility rights-of-way. This often blocks development of microgrids with multiple customers.

Microgrids developed through rate-based financing also impinge on equal opportunity by creating an uneven playing field that disadvantages the competitive market, he said.

Brown called for “a presumption of consumer sovereignty,” which allows customers to do want they want or need in terms of microgrid participation — and that they, and not their utility, be the decision-maker.

He also expressed concern about a trend toward letting utilities own distributed generation — even in states that do not allow them to own central generation. “I’m afraid it could destroy the market before it really gets going,” he said.

Other speakers will include Ted Borer, Princeton University; Bob Manning, Harvard University; John Kelly, The Perfect Power Institute; Juan Ontiveros, University of Texas, Austin; Mike Dempsey, Burns & McDonnell; Edd Lovette, PowerServices, and Paul Barter & Steve Brown, Environmental System Design.

Last year’s IDEA Campus Energy conference, held in Atlanta, marked the start of the Microgrid Resources Coalition, a new advocacy group formed to promote microgrids.

More details about the IDEA microgrid workshop are here.

For more on microgrids, download the free white paper, “The Role of Energy Storage in Smart Microgrids.”

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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