Municpal microgrids can bolster aging energy infrastructure, says Schneider Electric

Resarch from Schneider Electric and Navigant shows role of microgrids and EaaS in supporting California grid

California's grid is at risk from aging infrastructure and natural risks like wildfires.
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California's grid is at risk from aging infrastructure and natural risks like wildfires.

Schneider Electric, and market research and advisory firm Navigant Research, have released a new whitepaper into the use of microgrids to support the modernization of California’s grid infrastructure.

The research explores innovative use-cases for Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) municipal microgrids and is part of Schneider Electric’s larger commitment to driving resilience and more sustainable, affordable power in the state.

California faces a number of key challenges, such as extreme weather events, that impact the availability of its aging grid. For example, recent major wildfires resulted in the expansion of utility policies to shut off portions of the distribution grid during times of high fire risk. Extended outages not only pose an extreme hardship on citizens, but also jeopardize critical public services where up-time is vital in emergencies and business continuity that impacts the larger state economy.

“California, which has ranked first in blackouts for nine years in a row, needs to modernize its grid and power delivery infrastructure to not only meet its most basic safety and economic needs, but also reach its aggressive carbon reduction and renewable energy goals,” said Peter Asmus, research director with Navigant Research.

“Microgrids will play an increasingly important role as municipalities take power availability and resilience into their own hands to ensure individual citizens and businesses maintain energy access when its needed most.”

In addition to exploring the opportunity for microgrids in California’s energy mix, the Schneider Electric-Navigant Research white paper, titled ‘California’s Critical Facility Challenge’, also addressees how local governments can finance municipal microgrids through innovative public-private partnerships and EaaS business models.

“Microgrids have advanced to the point where access to secure, flexible and affordable power is within the reach of nearly everyone, without the need for an extensive overhaul of the entire grid,” said Mark Feasel, Vice President, Electric Utility Segment & Smart Grid, Schneider Electric. “We believe California’s critical facilities and municipalities need to be evaluating microgrids as part of their overall energy strategy and we’re proud to offer a guiding resource to simplify the decision process and drive greater adoption in the state.”

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