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SMART METERING Microgrids provide stability to US cities and mIlitary installations “Resilience” is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; and is therefore a crucial factor when considering the modernization of critical power infrastructures for the durability and longevity of the electric grid. 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, having torn through the US Northeast, leaving 8.5 million in the dark, provided the timely catalyst for US leaders and policy makers to investigate the overdue upgrade and reinforcement of the aging regional electricity grid. Like many 20 th century electrical models, the country’s legacy infrastructure was not designed to withstand the extreme pressure it has been subjected to in recent years. Today’s power utilities are not only expected to keep up with escalating demand and the changing needs of the modern consumer, but are also faced with the arduous task of combating the adverse effects of severe storms whilst at the same time, attempting to maintain a secure, uninterrupted power of high quality regardless of a compromised grid. Its architecture creates an environment for interoperability amongst Microgrid enabling technologies, culminating in a robust electricity network, and thereby creating a viable off-grid solution for sustained distribution of power amongst employing entities. It also allows for the incorporation of renewable energy (predominantly wind and solar) for locally produced power, reducing reliance on dirty power and having the added benefit of zero-emission generation. Drawing on natural cleaner sources, which are becoming increasingly cost effective, Microgrids provide an incentive to transition to a model that enables the bulk of electricity to be generated from renewables. Surplus power can also be sold back to the central grid, in a process known as Net Metering. Apart from making the grid greener and more resilient, distributed generation sources (eg CHP and fuel cells) along with advances in energy storage, smart islanding inverters, Automated Demand Response, Electric Vehicle charging and Microgrid software and hardware controls all contribute to developing a smarter, “harder” grid. S&C Electric describes it “as an old idea with new potential” as the usefulness of this approach continues to be explored and its functionality re-examined as a decentralized alternative for increasing reliability and quality of power supply. Depending on need, Microgrid technology can be adapted to accommodate the operator’s requirements, yielding a host of economic and system efficiency benefits. These include: • Reduction in transmission loss with use of Direct Current microgrid technology • Overall lower energy intensity rating and optimum use of available resources • Close to 100% uptime for critical loads (NB in military applications) • Stable supply to meet consumers’ exact energy requirements By US DoE definition, a Microgrid is “A group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources (DER) with clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid (and can) connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid- connected or island mode”. METERING INTERNATIONAL ISSUE - 2 | 2014 Infographics courtesy of Honeywell. Traditionally, backup power systems in the form of diesel generators, would be the typical solution to keep the grid going in the event of a power failure, representing one of the earliest forms of the Microgrid. This concept has evolved and continues to revolutionize the grid to which we are accustomed and could essentially “leapfrog” the necessity to be connected to conventional utilities in order to receive power. 63