At National Town Meeting on Smart Grid, Leaders Tout Role of ‘Microgrids’ in Energy Efficiency Projects

Advanced Energy, Broadband's Impact, Smart Grid July 12th, 2013

, Reporter, Broadband Census News

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2013 – Several leaders of microgrid initiatives from around the country spoke on the successes of their projects at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid on Thursday.

First, Tom Vosburg, Policy and Project Manager for Fort Collins Utilities Light and Power Operation, discussed the Renewable and Distributed Systems Integration project in Fort Collins, Colorado. The program, which received over $10 million in funding from the Department of Energy and local entities, employed a number of strategies to increase energy efficiency.

Microgrids, or modern, small-scale versions of the centralized electricity system are one such strategy.

Vosburg and his organization worked specifically to reduce peak loads by 20 to 30 percent. Peak loads at one of the feeders were reduced by 25 percent, meeting this goal.

John Bradley, Associate Vice President of Energy and Technical Services at New York University also presented his work on the university’s microgrid. NYU utilizes cogeneration to power about 40 buildings on the campus, although they do rely on other connections as a backup.

Many buildings on the campus also employ wireless occupancy-based sensors and controls that adjust power usage based on occupants as well as the state of the building itself. These controls have resulted in a 30 percent reduction in power usage, Bradley said.

Finally, Will Agate, Senior Vice President of the Navy Yard Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, described the progress toward establishing a microgrid in the Navy Yard in Philadelphia. His organization has worked with a number of corporations and other groups to develop a plan that focuses on smart grid infrastructure development, a sustainable business plan, customer efficiency, demand reduction, innovative technology and a small carbon footprint.

Agate also spoke on why microgrids are important to advancing smart grid technology. An important part of such programs is their grass roots nature, which he believes has been a model for success in a variety of areas.

“This is a way that customers in the field can decide what they want and what they are going to ask service providers to provide for them,” Agate said.

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