Rod Walton, Power Engineering
The Bronzeville Community Microgrid has passed its first big test.
Chicago-based utility Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) announced that it conducted a “simulated islanding” of the unique microgrid cluster project in the city’s Bronzeville neighborhood. The test checked the resiliency of the microgrid in the event of an emergency such as a weather event or cybersecurity attack.
The Bronzeville microgrid operated in island mode, providing power even though disconnected from the grid at large. It drew upon distributed energy resources (DERs), such as battery storage and solar photovoltaic, to serve customers.
“The Bronzeville microgrid not only demonstrated the value it offers the community when the grid is impacted by a disruptive event, but also in supporting integration of renewable energy,” said Terence R. Donnelly, president of ComEd. “This test is an important milestone for ComEd and the Bronzeville community, and numerous supporters in government, academia and industry.”
ComEd is working with a host of partners in developing the microgrid cluster. They include Illinois Tech, University of Denver, Argonne National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Quanta Technology, Siemens and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
In February 2018, the Illinois Commerce Commission approved ComEd’s plan to install what it called the first utility-operated microgrid cluster. Ultimately, the planned 7.7-MW system will provide service to about 770 customers in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, including the headquarters of the Chicago police and fire departments.
In 2016, ComEd was awarded a $4 million grant from the U.S. DOE to develop technology supporting the integration of 750 kW of solar and 500 kW/2MWh of battery storage.
The microgrid will ultimately connect with an existing microgrid on the campus of Illinois Tech, resulting in one of the most advanced urban microgrid clusters in the nation. Donnelly said.
“The microgrid cluster creates a unique opportunity to study how to maximize the value of the interaction between two microgrids in the ongoing effort to enhance grid resiliency and security,” he added.