Schneider Electric, Duke Energy Renewables Building Microgrids for Montgomery County, MD

by | Feb 3, 2017

microgridSchneider Electric and Duke Energy Renewables this week announced that they will build and deploy microgrids at the Montgomery County, MD, Public Safety Headquarters and the county Correctional Facility.

The press release says that the project will include infrastructure upgrades at both locations, installation of solar infrastructure and natural gas generators. The microgrids are expected to produce about 3.3 million kilowatt hours of solar energy and 7.4 million kilowatt hours of combined heat and power annually. Duke and Schneider say that the project is being financed with no capital investment from the county through a Schneider program and a power purchase agreement.

Microgrids are an increasingly attractive option for organizations and communities as the grid ages and becomes less reliable and communities prepare for increasingly severe weather events. Indeed, Superstorm Sandy four years ago motivated east coast states and the municipalities within to consider the option.

Microgrid Knowledge, in a story about a microgrid in Anchorage, says that Alaska has the most microgrids of any state. The piece details a large implementation by ABB that will serve about 300,000 people in the city. The microgrid will be powered by wind from Fire Island, which is 2.5 miles offshore, as well as other renewables. The project was initiated by the Chugach Electric Association and features ABB’s PowerStore technology, the story says.

There was good news and bad news for microgrid proponents from a panel at the DistribuTECH conference in San Diego. Electric Light & Power reports that panelists said that the challenges to microgrids aren’t technical. However, the approach has not yet succeeded without help:

The panelists said that just about every microgrid that exists right now received some sort of grant funding or special incentives to make it economically viable but they pointed to five existing business cases where they believe microgrids make economic sense today.

The story outlines those business cases. They include serving facilities at the end of the end of a transmission network; backup powering of critical services; supplemental services to commercial and industrial customers with high bills; supplementing services while a substation is being considered or is under construction and as a tool to help make renewables more consistent.

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