12 District Energy / Third Quarter 2018 © 2018 International District Energy Association. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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Microgrids in Maryland: Bolstering
public safety, community resiliency
Supported with state incentives, Montgomery County installs CHP-based microgrids
at two key facilities.
Eric R. Coffman, Chief, Office of Energy and Sustainability, Montgomery County, Md., Department of General Services;
and Rory Spangler, Energy Program Manager, Maryland Energy Administration
One of the original 13 colonies, Maryland is a state of many charms – among them, beautiful vistas on Sugarloaf Mountain, historical sites from the War of 1812, the expansive Chesapeake Bay and tasty Smith Island cakes. For all its natural and historic attractions, however, Maryland sits in the crosshairs in terms of the risks from extreme weather events,
acts of terrorism and potentially high costs of energy.
Courtesy Montgomery County, Md.
Part of the solar array at the Public Safety Headquarters, Montgomery County, Md.
Hurricanes, tropical storms, summer
thunderstorms and severe snowstorms are
not uncommon in Maryland. These events
have the potential to heavily damage even
the best-built utility infrastructure. In July
2010, a squall line of thunderstorms fueled by nearly 100 degree F temperatures
produced winds greater than 50 mph in
many parts of the state. At the peak of
the storm, nearly 290,000 utility customers in Maryland were without power.
Less than two years later, the state was
hit with a derecho – a long-lived, rapidly
moving line of intense thunderstorms
that produces widespread damaging
winds in a nearly continuous swath –
resulting in 1. 5 million customers without electricity in the Washington, D.C.,
area. This past March, high winds left
600,000 in the region without power
until service could be restored.
Although utilities serving Maryland
have in recent years improved overall reli-
ability during “blue-sky” or normal oper-
ating conditions as well as severe events,
the risk of impacts to a predominantly
overhead utility distribution grid continue;
and severe summer storms are not the on-
ly factor. The National Climate Assessment
(2014) predicts that Maryland will endure
between 15 and 60 more extreme tem-
perature days greater than 90 F annually,
increasing utility demand and impacting
air quality. Snowstorms that cause even
small outages can negatively affect key
infrastructure such as transportation de-
partment depots or other emergency ser-
vices. In addition to these weather risks,
many parts of Maryland are considered
within Greater Washington, D.C., and may
be targets of terrorism. Maryland has also
contended with higher energy costs than
most states in recent years.
Such factors along with growing interest in reducing emissions and achieving aggressive sustainability goals have
set the stage for Maryland to become a
hotbed of microgrid activity. Montgomery County, the most populous county
in the state, has recently developed an
advanced microgrid at its Public Safety
Headquarters that will improve the resiliency of government operations, reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, upgrade exist-