Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation Releases Community Microgrid Resilience Program Scoping Memo

Source: Mark F. Heffron, NREL 28239

On March 24th, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s (PSCW) Office of Energy Innovation (OEI), which houses the State Energy Office, released a scoping memo for a statewide Critical Infrastructure Microgrid and Community Resilience Center Pilot grant program. The proposed program draws upon lessons learned from energy assurance and petroleum shortage contingency planning, best practices from other states, and information provided by the NASEO-NARUC Microgrid Working Group, with the goal of fostering innovative pre-disaster mitigation through critical infrastructure microgrids and other resilient building strategies to demonstrate feasibility, implementation, and best practices in Wisconsin.

The proposed program uses State Energy Program (SEP) dollars to provide grants to local governments, school districts, Tribal governments, and utilities to plan (and ultimately construct) critical infrastructure microgrids and Community Resilience Centers. The program would leverage the experience of similar programs in other states, and suggests that the additional step of exploring resilience potential for low- to moderate-income (LMI) multi-family housing through the deployment of distributed generation resources and energy storage may also be beneficial.

The PSCW took up the memo during their April 15th open meeting (minutes available here). While the final order is still pending, the Commission voted (with one dissent) to commit the entire pilot program to feasibility studies, including feasibility studies for Community Resilience Centers. The Commission determined that these Centers can be level 1, 2, or 3 microgrids depending on complexity.

OEI found that the information gained through participating in the NASEO-NARUC Microgrid Working Group was invaluable when designing this program. OEI expects the application instructions for the pilot program to be available in May, with awards made later this year. For more information on the process, or to inquire about the program’s design, please contact Megan Levy, Local Energy Programs Manager and Energy Assurance Coordinator, Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation at megan.levy@wisconsin.gov.