In an article for Public Utilities Fortnightly, Guidehouse Insights explains why microgrids are essential and how utilities, their regulators, and other stakeholders can seize the opportunity to make them the mainstream
As extreme weather becomes the new normal due to climate change, the need for long-term solutions to the nation’s aging and outdated power grid is clearly growing.
In an article for Public Utilities Fortnightly, Peter Asmus, research director with Guidehouse Insights, explains how a coherent microgrid strategy is a sustainable solution that offers greater value to ratepayers, utilities, and the environment.
“We need microgrids, and we need them now,” Asmus said. “The biggest question mark in California, Texas, and the rest of the U.S. revolves around determining the best role for utilities with microgrids during this fundamental shift rippling through energy markets.”
Although some utilities have implemented temporary fixes as stopgap measures, they are not viable solutions for the long-term. Asmus points to three themes that can guide utilities, their regulators, and other stakeholders in developing a viable microgrid strategy.
By financing microgrids through an energy as a service (EaaS) business model, which offers cleaner and more resilient electricity services with no upfront capital, utilities can play a vital role in the new energy landscape. Removing regulatory barriers to microgrids that limit both behind-the-meter and front-of the meter solutions is another way to create win-win scenarios for consumers, the private sector, and the public sector. Lastly, partnerships with companies offering the most important technology for commercial success will allow utilities to harness digital solutions that perform seamless islanding during power outages and squeeze the most value out of distributed energy resource (DER) assets.
“Many states beyond California and Texas have been impacted by major power outages,” Asmus said. “Modular solutions that can be deployed within months, not years, should have top priority in Texas, California and the rest of the nation.”