First Cybersecure Microgrid Controller Installed by Midwestern Utility

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This is the sixth and final article in a Microgrid Knowledge series. This post explores what is being described as the first utility-owned microgrid to include an advanced cybersecure microgrid controller. 

Microgrid Controller

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A 1.475-MW test project is being described by a Midwestern utility and a key partner as one of the most technologically advanced utility-scale microgrids in North America. In addition to advanced controls, the microgrid includes wind, solar, natural gas generation, and energy storage. The microgrid deployment occurs at a time of heightened worldwide concern about hacking, following a ransomware attack in May 2017 that spread across 150 nations, infecting hundreds of thousands of businesses and institutions from British hospitals to FedEx in the U.S. and car factories in France.

Microgrid ‘firsts’ Besides being the first (and still only) microgrid controller to be given a DoD ATO, this is the first utility-owned microgrid to include an advanced cybersecure microgrid controller, manufactured by S&C Electric Company subsidiary, IPERC.

The microgrid achieves two additional technology “firsts,” according to S&C, which handled engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning:

  1. The installation marks the first time a microgrid is serving paying customer loads on a utility distribution feeder in North America. The microgrid’s generation can be islanded to serve only the local customers, or it can operate in grid-tied mode to provide ancillary services to the grid.
  2. It is the only known utility-scale microgrid in the nation capable of seamlessly transitioning the power source for an entire distribution circuit from the microgrid to the grid, according to S&C’s Chiesa. This prevents the normal short outages as the microgrid switches between grid-tied and islanded mode.

This microgrid also is one of the few in the world that operates at utility-scale voltages, between 4 kV and 34.5 kV, with multiple levels of control, according to the utility. The microgrid is being used by the utility to test monitoring and control methods for aggregating clean energy with advanced automation and battery storage.

The Microgrid Knowledge Special Report series on microgrid cybersecurity also covered the following topics:

The full report, “Microgrid Cybersecurity: Protecting and Building the Grid of the Future,” is downloadable free of charge courtesy of S&C Electric.


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