Manufacturers See Growing Use of Sophisticated Microgrids. Urge White House to Speed the Trend

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The National Electrical Manufacturers Association says it envisions growing use of sophisticated microgrids and is urging the White House to take action to speed the trend.

NEMA described what it sees ahead for microgrids and other modern energy technologies in recent comments on the Quadrennial Energy Review. President Barack Obama initiated the review in January 2014 to stimulate national discussion on energy policy.

The association said that a number of scenarios – including use of more renewables and less fossil fuel – are likely to make microgrids “an integral part of the power delivery system.” NEMA sees adoption of “increasingly sophisticated and integrated microgrids”  in the near future.

NEMA described microgrids as “evolving into a fundamental building block for grid modernization,” which can enhance electric grid reliability, reliance and efficiency and make it easier to integrate renewables, reduce peak load, and limit greenhouse gases.

The organization, which represents 400 electrical manufacturers, made several recommendations to speed adoption of microgrids; some regulatory, others technical.

NEMA argued that utilities should be allowed to own distributed energy resources only in limited circumstances, such as when the market fails to meet system needs.

Meanwhile, competitive players – owners of microgrids, solar PV, energy storage and the like — “should be able to actively participate in retail markets by providing valuable clean energy generation and dynamic grid-balancing ancillary services,” NEMA said.

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The organization also called for:

  • Changes to the regulatory and operating framework for transmission and distribution systems and development of alternative approaches to managing the legacy electric grid.
  • New, microgrid-specific regulations to accommodate interconnection and integration
  • Improvements and cost reduction in certain technologies, such as those for power electronic conversion and control, sensors and communication, protection and grid integration and renewables and energy storage.
  • Improvements in DC power conversion, distribution systems, voltage and power flow control, protection relays and disconnect circuits (breakers), direct current separation, and isolation equipment (DC/DC converters).

NEMA’s comments on the Quadrennial Energy Review are available here.

Learn more about sophisticated microgrids, and how they derive revenue, by downloading the free Microgrid Knowledge report, “How Microgrids Can Achieve Maximum Return on Investment (ROI): The Role of the Advanced Microgrid Controller.”

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three 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.