Are microgrids the key to climate resiliency? It’s a question being asked with a new sense of urgency since Hurricane Sandy.
I recently attended a forum on microgrids and storage held by NY-Best and the Pace Energy and Climate Center. The message was clear: we’re entering into a new paradigm of energy generation and distribution. Electric power will follow the path of high tech, becoming increasingly more decentralized and democratized.
Still, what’s technologically possible isn’t always legally allowed.
Before we get going, a quick definition: a microgrid is a shared network of distributed generation and storage that can operate in “island mode” during grid outages and remains connected to the local utility system. The most common and basic model is an energy independent college campus. Another example is in the Mid-Hudson Regional Sustainability Plan . The plan proposes to use microgrids as a key component of Community Energy Districts and is part of NYSERDA’s Cleaner Greener Communities Program.
The following covers 6 critical legal and policy issues facing microgrid development:
- Ownership: Deciding who owns the electricity generating equipment and wires for linking the loads can have a big impact on how a microgrid functions. It could be shared among one or more customers, as an electric cooperative, as a corporation, or as a non-profit association. How much input will the end-users have on the operation of their microgrid and what are the consequences if a customer wants to leave the microgrid entirely? Read the rest of this entry »