Commonwealth of Kentucky Regional Microgrids for Resilience Study

May 10, 2021
Download this resilience study the state of Kentucky undertook to plan and design for operational flexibility in the face of uncontrollable natural disasters that threaten to disrupt the electrical system.

Floods, high winds, extreme cold / winter storms, tornadoes and other uncontrollable natural disasters threaten to disrupt the electrical system in Kentucky. Therefore, it is imperative to plan and design for operational flexibility. One strategy in light of these threats is the deployment of site-specific nanogrids1 and regional community microgrids2 to provide electrical service to critical infrastructure and reduce the impact on the community in high-risk areas. The Kentucky Office of Energy Policy (“OEP”) contracted with the Smart Electric Power Alliance (“SEPA”) to conduct a microgrid study to identify opportunities for deploying microgrids to increase the overall resilience for the state of Kentucky. It is anticipated the study results will facilitate private sector and local government with identifying resilience funding opportunities and mitigation planning purposes.

The study methodology included four steps to identify potential microgrid deployments for critical facilities to increase the state-wide resilience in Kentucky against natural hazards:
1. Landscape Review – Stakeholder engagement to identify prioritization around critical facility types and natural hazards.
2. Data Collection – Data collection to determine state-wide factors of siting and designing potential microgrids, such as load profiles, reliability hotspots, distribution of critical facilities and natural hazards, population density, and energy burden.
3. Site Selection – Based on selection criteria, identification of specific facilities (nanogrids) and clusters of facilities (regional community microgrids) where microgrids are suited to provide resilience.
4. Deployment Strategy – Sizing, cost estimates, and possible microgrid deployment strategies to increase resilience.

Possible implementation sites for deployment incorporated a preliminary prioritization that began with identifying critical infrastructure facilities and was refined by taking into consideration a number of selection criteria including:
● Critical infrastructure facility type – Assessment of the criticality of services each facility type provides to the public and state.
● Geographical proximity – Identification of critical infrastructure facilities, of the same type, within close proximity to other potential microgrid deployment sites. The relative distance between potential sites was used to identify clusters of closely grouped facilities.
● Areas at high risk of natural hazard – Analysis of geographic areas at highest risk of being affected by a natural hazard. Natural hazards, which pose catastrophic threats, are grouped in Tier 1 and hazards, which pose non-catastrophic threats, are grouped in Tier 2. Priority was given to critical infrastructure facilities outside of Tier 1 and Tier 2 hazard areas.
● Reliability hotspots – Prioritization of potential sites located within areas identified as having reliability issues.
● Population density – Assessment of the population by county and urban areas to determine where grid support from a microgrid would be most impactful in the event of
an outage.
● Energy burden / underserved areas – Consideration of the energy burden by county to determine areas that are most underserved and therefore, where a microgrid would support equity in grid reliability.

SEPA evaluated two specific deployment strategies to harden portions of Kentucky’s electrical system, particularly those serving critical infrastructure and loads:
1. Nanogrid installations at individual critical facility infrastructure sites (e.g. healthcare facilities, water treatment plants, law enforcement facilities, grocery stores, etc.) enabling the facility to operate in isolation and provide much-needed services to Kentucky communities after a natural disaster. The installation of onsite backup generation, solar PV and battery storage at strategically located sites can create a series of self-powered centers to help the local communities recover in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster.
2. Regional community microgrids serving multiple critical facility loads within a close geographic area could also operate in isolation and provide much-needed services to Kentucky communities at a large-scale after a natural disaster. The installation of onsite backup generation, solar PV and battery storage could help these communities recover quicker from natural disasters.