Barrar and Committee Consider Potential Effects of Microgrids in the Commonwealth
6/20/2017
HARRISBURG – Rep. Steve Barrar (R-Chester/Delaware) and other members of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee heard from stakeholders regarding the use of microgrids to provide reliable energy distribution, especially during disasters and emergencies.

“It was important to hold this hearing to receive input from stakeholders about the Energy Resiliency and Emergency Preparedness Act, which I drafted to authorize a pilot program for microgrid use in the Commonwealth,” Barrar said. “While I believe there is potential for microgrids to provide considerable benefits during black sky events, I wanted to hear from the industry.”

As defined by the United States Department of Energy, a microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that act as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A microgrid can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid-connected and island mode.

They can provide power in the event of an outage for critical services like water and sewer treatment – two things that make a city uninhabitable faster than a lack of power. Of course, a microgrid can also provide electricity to help first responders and the people to restore power.

Microgrids are superior to generators because they can provide more power for a longer period of time.

Concerns were raised including potential cost to rate payers. Another question raised was how necessary microgrids are. How often do situations happen where a generator, for example, would be insufficient?

Many testifiers supported the use of microgrids and cited the benefits they could provide, including NetZero Microgrid Solutions Chief Executive Officer Will Agate. “This matter regards the potential of improving the welfare of hundreds of communities within our Commonwealth. It is especially about making the Commonwealth more competitive and attracting more businesses by making it a better place to do business, and, it is about making it possible for communities to protect its citizens during storms and national security threats,” Abate said.

The bill is designed not for the utilities to profit from sales in the whole market. Instead, the bill would require that any revenue from sales derived from utility-owned generation or storage assets be credited to customers and may not be retained by utilities.

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To view footage of the House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee hearing, click here.

Representative Stephen E. Barrar
160th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Alison Evans
717.260.6206
aevans@pahousegop.com
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