Executive Insight, Outage Management, Smart Grid

ComEd wins DOE grant for microgrid controller

The Department of Energy (DOE) picked Commonwealth Edison Co. (ComEd) to receive a $1.2 million grant to build a master controller that could drive the operations of clusters of microgrids.

ComEd assembled a group of science and technology partners for the DOE proposal including Alstom Grid, Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois Institute of Technology, Microsoft, OSIsoft, Quanta Technologies, S&C Electric, Schneider Electric and University of Denver.

A microgrid is a localized power system with the ability to self-supply and operate independently of, or in concert with, the main grid to meet the energy needs of multiple entities. Microgrids offer enhanced grid resiliency and flexibility by mitigating the impact of power outages resulting from severe weather or other disruptions.

The master controller is considered to be the brain of the microgrid as it collects data from a variety of individual energy resources, centrally determines how to control and operate those energy resources (i.e., generators, energy storage, adjustable loads, smart switches, etc.) and sends out the control signals that ultimately execute the power activity.

Microgrids can take power generation from the traditional electric grid as well as from sustainable sources including solar and wind. They will operate independently should disruptions occur on the main grid. For example, even in the midst of the sweeping devastation of Hurricane Sandy, some east coast communities were able to maintain power during and after the severe weather impacts by leveraging microgrids.

Each of the partner companies will contribute services to help make the master controller a reality.