Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network
Consumers Energy plans to combine solar and storage in a 4-square-block project in Jackson, Michigan.
Microgrid advocates hope a Michigan utility’s proposed “energy district” can help demonstrate the technology and spur more interest in similar projects.
Consumers Energy announced plans last month for a smart energy district on a 4-square-block area near the utility’s headquarters in Jackson. Though not formally a microgrid, the plan calls for developing a “smart energy community” around renewables, battery storage and electric vehicles, mirroring concepts of interconnected “smart cities.”
Michigan and the Midwest have lagged other regions when it comes to utility microgrids and battery storage, but cleantech boosters hope that’s starting to change.
“We’re kind of coming up to speed on renewable energy, microgrids and storage. I think the level of interest in microgrids is starting to expand in Michigan,” said Nathalie Osborn, director of smart grid initiatives at NextEnergy, a Detroit-based business accelerator.