- Following Superstorm Sandy, New York City is looking to develop microgrids -- smaller, more locally focused energy systems that operate closer to the user, more of a neighborhood operation. Utility officials can isolate a microgrid during a storm, walling it from cascading failures occurring on the larger electric grid. The NYS2100 Commission, set up by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to find ways to ready the state for future storms, recommended the state develop incentives to encourage creation of microgrids. Connecticut is pushing microgrid development for similar reasons. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been evaluating 36 projects and plans to award about $15 million to move the best of them forward. Gov. Dannel Malloy wants to spend an additional $30 million over the next two years on microgrids.
- More and more local communities are building solar gardens, offering the benefits of solar to renters, those with shaded roofs, or who face other obstructions to solar installation -- an estimated 75 percent of the U.S. population. (See this blog for more details.)
Why is the city, town and community increasingly the force behind clean and efficient energy?
I recently interviewed Rob Thornton, president at International District Energy Association, while preparing this year’s guidebook on combined heat and power, published by PennWell. He offered an interesting insight.
Much like banking, the power industry has been undergoing consolidation in recent years -- mergers and acquisitions and takeovers by national and international energy companies. In many places the hometown utility is no more. As a result, city officials have little sway over the shape of their electricity system.
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