Federal energy officials have awarded a $6.2 million grant to an Alaskan partnership that includes Cordova, with a goal of enhancing the resilience methods for distribution grids under harsh weather, cyber-threats, and dynamic grid conditions.
The grant is to be distributed over three years to be used for multiple networked microgrids, energy storage and early stage grid technologies. The planned outcome is to use zonal approaches in multiple loosely and tightly networked microgrids to increase the resilience and resources on the grid, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Partners in the project include the city of Cordova, Cordova Electric Cooperative, Alaska Center for Energy and Power, Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Siemens Corp,, Washington State University, Florida State University, New Mexico State University and Microgrid Solutions.
Word of the grant came on Sept. 13 from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who said she was pleased to see the Department of Energy recognize “the ingenuity of Alaskan innovators.”
Murkowski noted the significant energy challenges in many remote Alaska communities, but said that Alaska is also “an incubator of microgrid and hybrid-energy system solutions that will meet the growing challenges of grid reliability and resilience.
“It is important that Alaskans build a meaningful partnership with the department and the national labs to integrate renewable resources into our microgrids, because that will provide more affordable and sustainable energy to Alaskans and Americans in rural communities all across the United States,” Murkowski said.
The award was one of seven announced as part of the Grid Modernization Lab Consortium.
In June Murkowski held a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in Cordova to examine the innovation of microgrids and hybrid energy systems being used in rural Alaska. During that hearing Murkowski and ranking member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., heard from community and industry spokespersons, including Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, about how to deploy these energy technologies to provide reliable, clean and more affordable power to rural and off-grid communities.
Murkowski chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In June, she introduced the bipartisan Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, which would charter a microgrid program at the Energy Department to increase their use and effectiveness, identify barriers to deployment, and promote hybrid-microgrid systems.
More information on the program is online at https://energy.gov/under-secretary-science-and-energy/resilient-distribution-systems-lab-call-awards