DOE Awards $8M for Microgrid Projects in Seven States

Sept. 8, 2014
Seven US microgrid projects will receive $8 million in federal funds announced Sept. 8.

Seven microgrid projects will receive more than $8 million in federal funding to help cities and towns better prepare for extreme weather, the Department of Energy announced today.

The money will go to projects in Alaska, California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Tennessee and Washington. The projects are being developed by Alstom Grid, Burr Energy, Commonwealth Edison, the Electric Power Research Institute, General Electric, TDX Power, and the University of California, Irvine.

Their work focuses on advanced microgrid controllers and system designs for microgrids of less than 10 MW. Winners are sharing in project costs with contributions that range from 20 percent to about 50 percent of costs.

“Building in grid resiliency has gained greater urgency in recent years, as demonstrated by the economic and personal losses from electricity outages due to severe weather,” said Ernest Moniz, energy secretary. “Keeping the power on during extreme weather events and other electric grid disruptions is essential, particularly so that critical facilities such as hospitals and water treatment plants can continue operating.”

The DOE says is supporting a wide range of microgrid activities, including research and development, regional and state partnerships, and a project with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to demonstrate that a microgrid can maintain reliable and resilient electric power generation and distribution on military installations.

The winning projects are:

• Alstom Grid
DOE investment approximately $1.2 million
Located in Redmond, Washington, Alstom Grid will research and design community microgrid systems for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation and the Philadelphia Water Department, using portions of the former Philadelphia Navy Yard as a test bed.

• Burr Energy
DOE investment approximately $1.2 million
Headquartered in Little Falls, Minnesota, Burr Energy will design and build a resilient microgrid to allow the Olney, Maryland Town Center to function normally as a “lights-on” district for weeks in the event of a regional outage.  A second microgrid will be designed for multi-use commercial development in nearby Prince George’s County, Maryland.

• Commonwealth Edison  (ComEd)
DOE investment approximately $1.2 million
Headquartered in Chicago, ComEd will develop and test a commercial-grade microgrid controller capable of controlling a system of two or more interconnected microgrids. The utility project includes a diverse mix of facilities and critical loads, including police and fire department headquarters, major transportation infrastructure, healthcare facilities for seniors, and private residences.

• Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
DOE investment approximately $1.2 million
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, EPRI will develop a commercially-viable standardized microgrid controller that can allow a community to provide continuous power for critical loads.  Standardizing functionality will ensure that the controller can be easily adapted for a wide range of electric grid characteristics and allow grid operators to leverage distribution assets to support both islanded and grid-connected operation.

• General Electric Company
DOE investment approximately $1.2 million
Based in Niskayuna, New York, GE Global Research will develop an enhanced microgrid control system by adding new capabilities, such as frequency regulation.  This advanced system will be used to provide resilient, high quality power to critical loads in Potsdam, New York, including emergency service providers, utilities, and other essential services, during power disruptions.

• TDX Power
DOE investment approximately $1.2 million
Headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska, TDX will engineer, design, simulate, and build a microgrid control system on Saint Paul Island, an island located in the Bering Sea hundreds of miles from mainland Alaska. The system will incorporate a wide range of energy resources in grid-connected and islanded modes to support the island utility’s existing generation facilities, while advancing microgrid architectures and technologies to strengthen the resiliency of the electric infrastructure, lower energy costs, and reduce emissions.

• The University of California, Irvine
DOE investment approximately $1.2million
The Advanced Power and Energy Program at UCI will develop and test a generic microgrid controller intended to be readily adapted to manage a range of microgrid systems. With the California Independent System Operator providing technical advice, this project is expected to pave the way for the development of open source industry standards.

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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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