Applying Best Practices in Microgrid Implementation to Empower the Private Sector

To date, many of the early adopters for the more complex microgrid deployments have occurred in the public sector, involving the federal government and public universities. These public-facing stakeholders often have more complex energy needs, are long-term, sustainability-oriented decision-makers, and, most importantly, they put high priorities on the value of resiliency, making them strong candidates for microgrids. Now, we are starting to see stronger signs that the private sector is understanding the value of resiliency and being able to deploy local renewable power solutions by adopting the microgrid platform at the core of their energy strategies. As this trend continues and these opportunities evolve, terrific opportunity will continue to grow within the private sector, but this opportunity will be maximized in ways that only existing power industry utilities, professional service firms and contractors can achieve.

A number of avenues are evolving by which deployment of microgrids for the private sector are beginning to make more sense, and that could make microgrid deployment work faster and better in the private sector than the public sector. For example, articulating the value of a microgrid is often easier in the private sector because resiliency can be quantified financially. A microgrid can benefit a private company both by reducing operating costs, if structured in a way that reduces its energy spend, and by helping the company to avoid huge losses of revenue or productivity during a grid outage, which is becoming a bigger factor as climate change challenges continue to worsen. The latter case often represents a greater financial benefit, and companies that have experienced a significant loss of revenue due to a major outage often have a clear sense of the value of resiliency to their organization (as Delta learned when it lost $150 million in an outage at the Atlanta airport in 2016). By contrast, institutional organizations often articulate the value of resiliency in less easily quantified terms, such as the value of reducing missed days of school in the case of a university.

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