USDOE, NJBPU provide sustainability planning resources for resilient municipal microgrids

August 4, 2021

The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Center for Resilient Design announces the launch of microgrids.io, a web-based resource focused on planning and developing sustainable, resilient local government microgrids locally and nationally. Local government microgrids, also known as “town center” microgrids, distribute energy to a cluster of physically separated facilities, such as those that provide essential services during and after an emergency, within a municipality. These systems would provide a local source of generation that enables communities to operate facilities, including government buildings, police and fire operations, public housing, shelters and schools, independently of the grid and should an electric grid outage occur.

The site includes the results of a multiyear research project – funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities which addresses a range of critical challenges currently facing the successful procurement and financing of local government microgrids. The new site includes: Development of Local Government Resilient Microgrids, a report by Marc Pfeiffer of the Bloustein Center for Local Government Research at Rutgers University, with support from the NJIT Center for Building Knowledge; a series of Fact Sheets and Webinars detailing the critical issues and challenges identified throughout the research project; and suggestions and resources to better understand the process of planning and financing local resilient microgrids.

The report concluded that there are examples of successful single-site and campus, critical and noncritical facility microgrids, but town center microgrids are far more complicated and less common. The study results suggest the idea of a truly successful town center microgrid as an off-grid power supply for critical facilities remains difficult to achieve.

“Town center microgrids are one conceptual solution for community emergency-power resilience and reliability needs but face significant public policy-driven development hurdles,” said Pfeiffer, assistant director of Rutgers’ Bloustein Local Government Research Center. “The potential for these local solutions can be found through regulatory changes, understanding their impact on rate-based public utilities, and framing public policies to address climate change and environmental justice communities. These challenges are substantial but not necessarily insurmountable.”

“Microgrids.io is a valuable addition to the rapidly evolving microgrids knowledgebase,” said Deane Evans, executive director of the NJIT Center for Resilient Design. “With its specific focus on local government microgrids, an area of increasing interest to communities committed to sustainability and resilience, microgrids.io provides unique insights into the promise of – and current challenges facing – the development of this unique type of microgrid.”

Microgrids.io was developed and is currently maintained and updated by the Center for Resilient Design at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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