Microgrids for Social Justice, Cities, Schools and Even Furniture

May 25, 2018
Massachusetts grants fund to two social justice microgrids…Bronzeville gets a battery…California school system installs six microgrids…and other quick news from Microgrid Knowledge
Microgrids for social justice in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center has awarded two $75,000 grants for social justice microgrids planned in Boston’s Chinatown and Chelsea neighborhoods.

The microgrids are the brainchild of an energy democracy collaborative called RUN-GJC, which intends to use the funds to conduct  technical analysis and to mobilize community members, according to Dave Dayton, founder of the RUN team.

Boston’s Chinatown. By travelview/Shutterstock.com

Climable.org, a member of the collaborative, said that the microgrids will move forward in a non-traditional way, starting with community leadership in low to moderate income neighborhoods. Beyond resilience, this neighborhood-focused model provides a basis for local economic development in the form of clean energy jobs, and healthier homes due to cleaner air.

The microgrids are designed to use distributed energy resources so that they pay for themselves through energy savings and grid revenue.

In addition to Climable.org, the collaborative includes Clean Energy Solutions, Peregrine Energy Group, Climate Action Business Association, and Boston Community Capital. GJC, the Green Justice Coalition, is a coalition of over 40 community organizations, environmental groups, and labor unions in Massachusetts that collaborate on environmental justice issues. The GJC is convened by Community Labor United and its representatives involved in the microgrid initiative are Clean Water Action, GreenRoots Chelsea, and the Chinese Progressive Association.

Battery selected for Bronzeville microgrid

Commonwealth Edison has selected Lockheed Martin to supply energy storage for the Bronzeville microgrid in Chicago.

Development of the project is being carefully watched within the industry because it is being designed as the first utility microgrid cluster. It will connect with an existing microgrid operated by the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Lockheed will provide its 2 MWh lithium battery system.

The project will allow ComEd to take advantage of work funded by two grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This work includes developing and testing a microgrid controller that will control the cluster of the Bronzeville microgrid and the microgrid at IIT. A second DOE grant is focused on studying how large amounts of solar PV and batteries can be integrated into a microgrid.

In March, ComEd chose Siemens to provide software to serve as the platform to manage the microgrid cluster.

Microgrid-friendly utility signal

John McAvoy, Consolidated Edison’s chairman and CEO, made note of two microgrids within the New York utility’s service territory as examples of utility innovation, in a meeting with shareholder this week.

McAvoy said that the company is encouraging incorporation of new technologies and distributed energy resources that support New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV). He noted that the new Hudson Yards project on Manhattan’s West Side will include a combined heat and power project that is part of a microgrid. He also cited Marcus Garvey Village in Brooklyn, which has a microgrid that includes solar panels, a fuel cell, and battery storage.

He told the audience that smart meters, technology investments, and increased integration of renewables will improve service to customers and enhance the company’s long-term sustainability.

California school system installs solar plus storage for microgrids

Santa Rita Union School District (SRUSD) in Salinas, California has installed solar plus storage at six sites to form microgrids to provide power during outages.

Provided by Generate Capital, MBL-energy, and Sharp Electronics, the microgrids will provide up to seven hours of power at each school during a grid outage and will also offset the school’s energy and demand usage, resulting in substantial savings on its utility bills.

In addition, the multi-campus systems will enable the schools to support the local Salinas community as Powered Emergency Response Centers in the event of disasters that cause prolonged outages.

The innovative project was envisioned by EcoMotion (an SRUSD consultant), developed by SolEd Benefit, engineered by Sharp and Black & Veatch, constructed and structurally engineered by MBL-energy, and financed by Generate Capital.

In total, the systems include one megawatt of solar PV that is integrated with 1.1 MWh of  behind-the-meter energy storage.

Furniture as a microgrid?

A Brooklyn company appears to have come up with the ultimate in modular microgrids: a piece of furniture that acts as it own electricity source.

Called Patch, the new furniture line is a product of Brooklyn-based studio UM Project. The unit includes three cabinets that connect to outdoor bench with solar panels. Batteries are installed with the pieces of furniture for a system that its makers say can provide power for 24 hours and takes eight hours to recharge. The furniture acts as a charging station and also can provide electricity for a small apartment, according to its makers.

Is it a truly a microgrid? UM Project uses the term. It’s becoming a popular one.

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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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