Microgrid Policy, Benefits to be Explored This Week at IDEA’s Campus Energy 2015

mictogrid policyMicrogrid policy will be among topics discussed at a special workshop offered during this week’s Campus Energy 2015, held by the International District Energy Association in Denver, Colorado.

The February 10 workshop, “Microgrids and Electrical Distribution Systems,” will focus on policy, benefits, industry vocabulary, measurement and metrics, design, case studies and working with utilities.

The workshop comes as policy efforts pick up in various states, which C. Baird Brown, a partner with Drinker Biddle & Reath, will explain.

Brown will describe policy approaches that foster microgrid development. These include:

  • Determining what services microgrids provide to the grid and what services the grid provides to microgrids — and how to price the services fairly
  • Using decoupling and incentive ratemaking to compensate utilities fairly and create the correct market signals
  • Adopting policies that do not discriminate, but create a level playing field for customers, third party providers, and unregulated utility affiliates with respect to the ownership and operation of microgrids.
  • Eliminating barriers to competition and customer choice

Policy should allow “equal opportunity for all,” Brown said in a recent interview. Right now, such equality does not exist because rules in many states prohibit microgrids from crossing utility rights-of-way. This often blocks development of microgrids with multiple customers.

Microgrids developed through rate-based financing also impinge on equal opportunity by creating an uneven playing field that disadvantages the competitive market, he said.

Brown called for “a presumption of consumer sovereignty,” which allows customers to do want they want or need in terms of microgrid participation — and that they, and not their utility, be the decision-maker.

He also expressed concern about a trend toward letting utilities own distributed generation — even in states that do not allow them to own central generation. “I’m afraid it could destroy the market before it really gets going,” he said.

Other speakers will include Ted Borer, Princeton University; Bob Manning, Harvard University; John Kelly, The Perfect Power Institute; Juan Ontiveros, University of Texas, Austin; Mike Dempsey, Burns & McDonnell; Edd Lovette, PowerServices, and Paul Barter & Steve Brown, Environmental System Design.

Last year’s IDEA Campus Energy conference, held in Atlanta, marked the start of the Microgrid Resources Coalition, a new advocacy group formed to promote microgrids.

More details about the IDEA microgrid workshop are here.

For more on microgrids, download the free white paper, “The Role of Energy Storage in Smart Microgrids.”

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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