NRECA is launching a new national microgrid consortium, one of five such groups aimed at helping member cooperatives pursue funding opportunities in the $1.2 trillion federal infrastructure law.
“NRECA is taking a proactive approach by forming consortia in different topic areas and inviting co-ops with similar interests to join,” said Tolu Omotoso, NRECA’s director of energy solutions. “The consortia will help them prepare to take advantage of the funding when the money is released.”
The microgrid consortium is launching this month with a webpage and resources for members. NRECA will hold a webinar on June 1 to brief member co-ops about potential opportunities and gauge their needs, Omotoso said.
“There is value to co-ops in leveraging the partnerships that NRECA has with funding agencies, universities and national laboratories,” he said. “Through the consortium, we will share best practices among co-ops to aid those applying for grants when the Department of Energy seeks RFPs (requests for proposals) for microgrid projects.”
Several facets of the infrastructure spending package are aimed at improving reliability and resiliency in the nation’s electric grid, said Omotoso. NRECA estimates there will be tens of millions in funding that could be applied to microgrid research and deployments.
Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act last year, which provides billions for broadband deployment, electric vehicle charging networks, electric transmission, energy storage, carbon capture and other clean energy technologies.
Emma Stewart, NRECA’s chief scientist, says the substantial infrastructure funding is a means for co-ops to explore innovative ways to integrate developing technologies like microgrids.
“The power of the consortia is seeing the non-obvious pathways of success with open forums and ways to collaborate,” she said. “It will maximize co-ops’ ability to work on things like microgrids and resilience and explore new ways to work together.”
Other NRECA-led consortia will come online this spring and summer. They will focus on cybersecurity, natural hazards and smart grids and data—all project areas in the infrastructure package where co-ops can apply for funds.
A consortium on electric vehicles is up and running, and more information is available in the consortium section of NRECA’s Infrastructure Resource Hub.