Concord Engineering CEO Says Future Microgrid Market Depends on “Four Headed Dragon”

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Michael Fischette, CEO of Concord Engineering, says the industry needs to tackle a “four-headed dragon” to move the microgrid market forward. He also describes Microgrid 2019 as “crackling with excitement,” in an interview at the event with Microgrid Knowledge Editor Lisa Cohn.

Fischette leads Concord Engineering, a company founded in 1989 that specializes in on-site generation, transmission and distribution, energy efficiency and electric and gas contracts for customers.

The CEO explained that Concord Engineering likes to think of itself as a “virtual microgrid provider.” While it doesn’t own assets, it provides services to owners, utilities and private developers.

A recent example is a new third-party owned microgrid for Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

“Concord provided all the development, engineering and construction for the project, and it’s operating today,” Fischette said.

What needs to be done to move the microgrid market along?

When posed this question, Fischette broke it down to what he called a “four-headed dragon.” He said that each head of the dragon needs to be addressed individually.

The first “head” is the federal sector, which he pointed out has taken initiative in terms of defining microgrids and resiliency.

Next, Fischette shared that the healthcare industry is one of the industries “whose codes we are focused on changing right now,” as they currently don’t address microgrids, but only diesel-fired generation. Fischette said he believes these changes are coming.

The third factor is community microgrids in municipalities, and how debt and ownership is structured for these projects, as well as how they can work with utilities.

The fourth, Fischette said, “is really up to to ISOs [Independent System Operators] in this country to really reach out to the private sector and make their programs better known, because there is great incentive, particularly in the Northeast, that can really pay for resiliency in a very short time.”

And the industry is well on its way. He described Microgrid 2019 as “crackling with excitement.”

Fischette pointed out that 40 years ago when he entered the energy business, many companies were converting oil-fired power plants back to coal, to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

“Fast forward to today, and it’s climate change and reliability that are just changing the complete landscape,” Fischette said.

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