Microgrids are an old concept, but recently they've garnered renewed interest within the power sector. For years, utilities have invested in centralized plants, building miles and miles of transmission lines to ship power where it needs to go.
But lately, that has changed. An aging grid and recent severe storms have highlighted the need for resiliency. Regulators in some states have opened dockets to collect solutions for boosting resiliency; utilities have also proposed projects targeting that goal. And many of these solutions contain microgrids.
But finding the right design and financing is no easy task. Every potential microgrid site holds unique needs and utilities must accommodate them without adding substantially to utilities' cost. That could prove controversial, as some utilities explore rate-base opportunities, and others look to private-public partnerships.
We explore these issues and more in this spotlight on microgrids:
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