Two New Microgrids in Maryland Increase Energy Resilience and Efficiency

In October, Montgomery County, Maryland publicly launched two microgrid projects composed of solar parking canopies, natural gas combined heat and power (CHP) systems, electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure, and electrical upgrades.  Located at the County’s public safety headquarters and at a correctional facility, the installations are expected to provide 750 homes’ worth of energy every year.  They also provide resiliency for these critical facilities, enabling their continued operation in the case of a grid outage. By capturing both useful heat and electricity, the microgrids’ CHP systems can achieve an efficiency of 80%, as compared to the roughly 33% efficiency of grid-provided power. The new microgrids lower energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and also received Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal (PEER) certification from the Green Building Certification Institute.

These Montgomery County projects employ an innovative “energy-as-a-service” business model, in which private partners, Schneider Electric and Duke Energy Renewables, provided upfront capital, thus averting the need for more than $4 million of public capital expenditure. The private partners designed and built the systems and will maintain and operate them under a long-term contract.

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) provided nearly a half million dollars of funding for these projects through the state’s CHP Grant Program and the Parking Lot Solar PV Canopy with EV Charger Grant Program. MEA Director, Mary Beth Tung, stated that “Expanding emergency relief options for residents impacted by a power grid outage is a paramount health and safety issue…The State of Maryland has a dedicated network of agency offices who partner with utility companies and local organizations to address public needs. This microgrid project … is an excellent example of the State’s strong public-private partnerships.”