Discussion: 7 Strategies to Make Microgrids Fit for Utility Grid Modernization

March 6, 2023
Allan Schurr, Enchanted Rock’s chief commercial officer, discusses findings from a recent microgrid survey for utilities, with Elisa Wood, editor-in-chief of Microgrid Knowledge.

When utilities consider the mix of investments for grid modernization, most consider grid automation, advanced controls, and data analytics, but are not yet making microgrids a part of their grid modernization roadmap.

By overlooking microgrids they miss opportunities to provide local capacity and boost customer satisfaction by serving strategically important customers seeking increased resilience.

That’s why Enchanted Rock and Microgrid Knowledge conducted a survey of leaders at large U.S. electric utilities to take the pulse on their actions and attitudes on microgrid development. 

The results revealed most executives believe their utilities have a broad role to play with microgrids. Yet most also saw deterrents that prevented their utilities from playing this role.

In a recently recorded webinar, 7 Strategies to Make Microgrids fit for Utility Grid Modernization, Elisa Wood, editor in chief of Knowledge and Allan Schurr, Enchanted Rock’s chief commercial officer, dive into what the leaders of large utilities reported were the top deterrents to microgrid adoption and strategies to overcome them.

The webinar is now available for free replay.

Here are some of the findings discussed.

  • Only 10% of investor-owned utility customers have no interest in microgrids. Many customers have deployed a microgrid or are working to deploy one, with many more in the planning or education phase. The survey results reveal that energy users know about microgrids and see the potential for value.

  • Most utility leaders surveyed (55%) believe that utilities have a wide-reaching role to play with microgrids — literally “all of the above” — including support for microgrid interconnections, investing in microgrids, helping develop front-of-meter microgrids, incentivizing dispatchable microgrids and advising. 

  • Only 2% of those surveyed said utilities have no role to play with microgrids. More than 60% of leaders surveyed said their utilities have deployed or are currently working to deploy a microgrid, with that number jumping to 82% for respondents at IOUs.

  • Two-thirds of utility leaders said benefits related to electric reliability and backup power was the best reason for their organization to develop a microgrid. That was followed by strengthening the utility distribution system via non-wires alternatives (53%), advancing clean energy and decarbonization (43%), and fulfilling customers’ desires for value-added products and services (42%) as the best reasons to install a microgrid.

About the Author

Microgrid Knowledge Editors

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