Price vs. reliability of microgrids

Microgrids are becoming a hot topic in the world of energy, especially when it comes to talking about smart grids and renewable energy. The problem is, though, that while there is a lot of talk about microgrids, there is very little action.

Deep-pocketed players, like the U.S. Department of Defense, universities and large corporations, are all investigating microgrids, but only a few -- mostly universities -- are pulling the trigger on building them out.

In the U.S., the price of power is relatively cheap compared to the cost of building and maintaining your own mini-grid.

While the costs associated with microgrids compared to that of energy are relatively prohibitive, this view is beginning to change as organizations, companies, and communities are looking for reliability and resilience of their electric infrastructure.

Mike Gordon, CEO of Joule Assets, thinks it’s coming sooner than later. “The multi-stakeholder microgrid is going to take off,” he said.

He noted that community choice aggregators are the ideal player to offer enhanced products to homeowners that leverage energy markets. Hendrzak said a few developers had approached PJM about microgrid communities. “The technology capabilities are there,” argued Gordon. “The only barrier is that no one has asked yet.”

As the technology for creating microgrids continues developing, and becoming more economical to install, and more communities and large organizations see the benefits of having microgrid systems, there could be a change in how we value energy production and distribution.

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