Xcel Energy has expanded its microgrid development service to large commercial and industrial customers in Minnesota, following approval from the state’s Public Utilities Commission, the company said Monday.
“This program greatly reduces the upfront cost for customers who would benefit from resiliency assets and provides our extensive support to operate and maintain these systems, so they are available if they are needed,” Emmett Romine, Xcel vice president of customer solutions and innovation, said in a statement.
The offering, named Empower Resiliency, is aimed at customers requiring “higher-than-standard service reliability,” according to the utility. Through the program, Xcel will own, install, operate and maintain microgrid assets, including battery storage, renewable energy and back-up generators, for the customer.
Xcel says it already offers 99.9% power reliability but that some customers require higher levels of service that often cannot be delivered without on-site equipment. The utility says it provides a “turnkey resiliency solution and upfront capital,” allowing customers to pay for the improvements over time.
The Empower Resiliency program was already offered in Wisconsin, and in January Xcel announced a deal with Bayfield County to develop a microgrid to power the county jail and courthouse. Officials say essential services need to be maintained as weather has become more extreme.
The microgrid will also allow the county to “serve as a resource for the public if there's a long-term outage,” Bayfield County Administrator Mark Abeles-Allison told Wisconsin Public Radio.
The project and Xcel’s offering reflects a growing trend: The U.S. market for microgrids is expected to expand 19% annually through 2027, according to a February analysis from Wood Mackenzie. The microgrid market reached 10 GW in the third quarter of 2022 with 7 GW already in operation and the rest in planning or construction stages, according to the firm.