NECEC and the BU Institute for Sustainable Energy Publish New White Paper on Multi-User Microgrid Deployment

NECEC and the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy, with support from E4TheFuture, today released a new white paper on multi-user microgrid deployment, “Multi-User Microgrids: Obstacles to Development and Recommendations for Advancement.”

While multi-user microgrids are emerging as a highly resilient approach to electricity service, few are actually in operation. The paper seeks to identify the barriers limiting multi-user microgrid development, as well as potential solutions to those barriers, focusing particularly on the northeast United States.

“We believe this is an important contribution to the limited literature pertaining to multi-user microgrids,” said Professor Kira Fabrizio of the Questrom School of Business at Boston University, the principal investigator for BU’s Institute of Sustainable Energy on this research.  “Our findings should be useful for interested parties seeking to tackle the challenges that have so far inhibited the development of multi-user microgrids – even when it’s clear that they can create significant societal value – so that they can become a more commonplace solution for energy customers to obtain clean and resilient power.”

Augmenting research of publicly available information by interviewing industry experts, the paper identifies the following seven key barriers to multi-user microgrid development and suggests beneficial actions and recommendations to overcome them: 

  • Inability to monetize resilience (and other value streams)
  • Conflicts with pre-existing rights associated with electricity delivery
  • Preferential rights for utilities to cross public rights-of-way
  • Ambiguity about viable multi-user microgrid ownership models
  • Utility assertion of rights via legal action
  • Lack of suitable risk-mitigation structures
  • Insufficient leadership to coalesce solutions

“We hope this white paper will help expedite the deployment of multi-user microgrids as an important approach for delivering clean and resilient energy to customers,” said Peter Rothstein, President of NECEC. “The barriers explained and solutions identified in this paper will help developers and microgrid project partners overcome the limitations inhibiting the implementation of multi-user microgrids.”

This white paper was prepared by the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy in collaboration with NECEC Institute and with funding from E4TheFuture. Research was conducted by Professor Kira Fabrizio, with assistance from Richard Stuebi, Josef Benzaoui, and Ryan Smith.

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