For a relatively small market, microgrids are attracting some big players, a sign that perhaps it won’t be small for long.
Exelon, Duke, and Siemens were among the giants that made news this week for microgrid plays.
Chicago-based Exelon announced that is partnering with independent developer Anbaric to build microgrids in New York.
The two companies are a classic pairing of a deep pocket utility with a nimble independent developer. Exelon has $24.9 billion in annual revenue, three major utility companies, and a portfolio of power plants totaling 35,000 GW. Anbaric has experience pioneering in competitive markets, New York and New Jersey in particular, where it has helped develop independent transmission. Anbaric more recently formed a microgrid development company.
The Exelon/Anbaric partnership will focus on New York, a starting point that makes sense for more than one reason. Anbaric is familiar with the state’s market and regulatory environment. Moreover, the state is growing ever-more microgrid-friendly as it prepares to launch a distributed energy platform through Reforming the Energy Vision.
“New York State has made clear that it wants to be a national leader in microgrid development,” said Ed Krapels, the founder and CEO of Anbaric.“This alliance responds to that call by tailoring our efforts around Governor Cuomo’s energy plan and the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision program to create a paradigm for microgrid development that benefits New York residents and businesses.”
The Exelon/Anbaric partnership plans to develop five large microgrids in the 10 to 200-MW range in Long Island, New York City, and upstate New York. The companies are now identifying customers, which they say could include skyscrapers, hospitals, universities, industrial businesses or municipalities.
This is the second big utility alliance that Anbaric has announced recently; the first being a partnership with National Grid to develop a 1,000 MW submarine transmission line that would deliver renewable energy from Maine to Massachusetts.
Anbaric has been working in the microgrid space for a while. But what’s bringing Exelon in?
Jeff Yuknis, vice-president of Exelon and the leader of Exelon’s New York microgrids business, said that the partnership provides Exelon with “an opportunity to get an early foothold in the emerging microgrids market, building on our existing expertise in distributed generation and our wires business.”
The move is in keeping with Exelon’s strategy to grow and diversify through “targeted investments in core and adjacent markets and explore promising technologies,” he said.
Yuknis said that Exelon plans to deploy its expertise, capital, and resources in New York “to unlock the significant benefits that microgrid technology offers.”
Exelon already is working on microgrid projects at its utility subsidiaries, which include Baltimore Gas & Electric, Illinois-based Commonwealth Edison, and Pennsylvania-based PECO. Most notably, ComEd is developing a microgrid controller through a Department of Energy grant.
Meanwhile, Duke Energy announced further plans to build a solar microgrid demonstration project at its smart grid testing center in Mount Holly, North Carolina. The project is part of Duke’s Coalition of the Willing, a collaboration of companies to advance smart grid. Among those working on the microgrid project are ABB, General Electric, S&C Electric, Schneider Electric, Verizon and Siemens.
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