PRESIDENT’S DESK BY DAVID A. HARDT
MICROGRIDS ARE A HUGE TOPIC IN THE RENEWABLE-ENERGY WORLD. Local energy grids
with control capability—meaning they can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously—are
becoming more attractive for a variety of applications as solar and battery costs plummet.
A microgrid provides backup for the grid in case of emergencies and can be used to cut costs or connect to a local
resource that is too small or unreliable for traditional grid use. It allows communities to be more energy independent
and, in some cases, more environmentally friendly.
Microgrids vary in design and size. A microgrid can power a single facility, such as the Santa Rita Jail microgrid
in Dublin, Calif., or it can power a larger area. In Fort Collins, Colo., a microgrid is part of a larger goal to create an
entire district that produces the same amount of energy it consumes, according to the Department of Energy.
As an electrical contractor and president of the National Electrical Contractors Association, I’ve seen how
microgrid projects around the United States are taking shape. For example, Schneider Electric (a NECA Premier
Partner) and Duke Energy Renewables have signed an agreement to deploy two advanced microgrids to serve the
Public Safety Headquarters and Correctional Facility in Montgomery County, Md. The microgrids will produce
about 3. 3 million kilowatt-hours (k Wh) of solar energy per year and will include 7. 4 million k Wh of combined heat
and power each year, according to a report in Utility Dive, a website covering the utility industry.
Furthermore, military microgrids are gaining in popularity. Massive savings, safety and security should all be
According to new research conducted by Noblis Inc. and commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Depart-
ment of Defense could save hundreds of millions of dollars annually and boost energy security by installing more
microgrids and renewable-power systems and increasing energy efficiency on military bases. Pew says the depart-
ment’s annual energy bill stands at “$4 billion across its 523 installations, which span more than 280,000 buildings
and 2 billion square feet, nearly three times the combined area of all Walmart stores in the United States.”
For NECA and the electrical construction industry, adapting to change and using new technologies is imperative.
The advancement of microgrids is just one important example.
David A. Hardt, PRESIDENT, NECA
March of the Microgrids