Essentially a small power grid with defined boundaries, a microgrid can operate both when connected to the larger electric grid and as an “island” when there’s an interruption on the main grid. It draws on distributed energy resources (DERs), such as solar power, to serve customers within the microgrid footprint. These benefits extend to surrounding communities through better access to food, supplies, and public services.
Microgrids enhance the ability of communities to bounce-back after a disaster by mitigating the impacts of wide-spread power outages. The increasing frequency and severity of weather events and the potential for other major disruptions to the grid has motivated ComEd to invest in microgrids and smart city solutions to build resilience in the energy system and related infrastructure and at the community level.
Growing interest in microgrids notwithstanding, deep understanding and articulation of their potential has been isolated to a few esoteric fields of engineering and disaster science. ComEd and NCDP have been collaborating since December 2019 to present a series of thought leadership pieces that address the role of energy utilities in fostering resilience to climate change and related disasters. The work will result in publicly disseminated and/or peer reviewed articles on the topics of climate change — the threats it presents, adaptations being made to better prepare and respond, as well as technology development and the energy sector workers for whom resiliency is the highest priority. Additionally, with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, ComEd and NCDP have partnered to address the role of energy utilities in a public health disaster especially.