The Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC) has launched a Texas chapter to focus on legislative and regulatory engagement to advance microgrid adoption throughout Texas.
MRC is a national association of leading microgrid owners, operators, developers, suppliers and investors seeking to advance microgrids.
Not only is Texas the second largest market in the United State, the Lone Star State has experienced energy supply volatility in recent years. After three consecutive severe winter storms swept across the United States in February 2021, Texas suffered a major power crisis that made national headlines. Winter Storm Uri, which knocked out the power for two out of three Texans and led to the deaths of an estimated 246 residents, highlighted the necessity for resiliency plans in the face of extreme weather events in order to keep Texas communities safe and operational. One such solution is microgrids.
A microgrid, which is a local energy grid with control capability that can operate with the traditional grid or disconnect from it and operate autonomously, allows for resilient and flexible electricity generation during extreme weather events when the grid is unavailable, as it was during Winter Storm Uri.
“What happened in Texas in 2021 was a wakeup call for the state,” said Pierson Stoecklein, executive director of the MRC. “In forming the MRC Texas Chapter, we aim to give a unified voice to the microgrid industry throughout Texas, with the goal of building community resilience and supporting business continuity so something of that nature never happens again.”
The Texas Chapter will focus on both legislative and regulatory engagement efforts, and anticipates the filing of multiple bills this session that are favorable to the continued deployment of microgrids in Texas. One such initiative is Senate Bill 330 (SB 330), authored by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood). The bill proposes to create the Texas Electric Grid Security Commission, which would be charged with evaluating the vulnerabilities to the electric grid and critical infrastructure and developing standards that will mitigate these threats.
“I am excited to see how microgrids are presently being used, and what I am hearing about their future development,” Hall said. “Currently, in Texas, microgrids are being used by small communities and some military installations. In each case, the use of the microgrid provides those consumers additional resiliency against grid failures. As renewables increasingly add vulnerabilities to our grid, microgrids can offer increased reliability and resiliency.”
It is critical that state officials recognize the importance of microgrids and prioritize policies that facilitate their adoption. Fortunately for Texas residents, this is a focus of Senator Hall’s.
“We are working on addressing roadblocks that are currently in place that restrict the use of microgrids, or otherwise disincentivize their use,” Hall said. “Senate Bill 330 provides needed clarification on this matter by stating that microgrid owners/operators that meet certain requirements would be considered a power generation company and would be entitled to connect with the grid and to sell electricity at wholesale. This clarification is an important step in making our grid more reliable and providing a way for more people to enjoy greater resilience.”
MRC member Schneider Electric, which has several manufacturing facilities and more than 2,800 employees across Texas, and is the largest builder of Tier 1 microgids in North America, will help lead the Texas Chapter.
“Texas wants to be resilient and energy independent, and in our eyes, there’s no better way to achieve this than through the adoption of microgrids that operate 24/7 protecting critical infrastructure,” said Jana Gerber, North America microgrid president for Schneider Electric.
— Solar Builder magazine