IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 50

Figure 1. Community microgrids aim primarily at supplying electricity to a group of consumers in a neighborhood or several connected neighborhoods in close proximity.

designed to address socioeconomic and environmental concerns, 3) the commercial and industrial consumers' needs for
high reliability and quality premium power is growing due to
dependence on sensitive loads, and 4) society is demanding
more resilient power delivery infrastructures due to the growing dependence on electric service for vital activities such as
transportation, e.g., the emergence of plug-in electric vehicles,
and the well-documented grid vulnerability issues exposed by
recent natural phenomena such as Hurricane Sandy.
The transition from the conventional utility grid to the
smart community microgrids and the enhanced utilization
of DER and controllable loads are anticipated to extensively
change the way the communities use electricity by increasing energy efficiency, enhancing conservation levels, and
reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while lowering the
stress level on congested T&D lines. Several obstacles, however, exist in the rapid and widespread deployment of community microgrids, including the high capital cost of

Figure 2. Smart metering is one of the major enablers of energy
management for buildings.

50

I E E E E l e c t r i f i c ati o n M agaz ine / March 2015

microgrid deployment, the lack of consumer knowledge on
potential impacts of DG and load scheduling strategies, and
particularly ownership and regulatory issues.
Microgrid developers must convince consumers that the
benefits of the microgrid exceed the capital costs. The
microgrid benefits must be scrutinized and compared with
the microgrid capital cost for ensuring a complete return on
investment to further justify the microgrid deployments.
An accurate assessment of the microgrid's economic benefits is a challenging task because of the significant data
uncertainty involved in the assessment. Moreover, some of
the assessment results such as reliability improvements are
difficult to comprehend for consumers when represented
in supply availability terms. Thus, efficient planning models
are required to ensure the economic viability of microgrid
deployments and further justify investments based on costbenefit analyses under uncertain conditions.
The second obstacle persists as long as consumers do not
have a keen knowledge of load scheduling strategies or are
not willing to contribute to energy management efforts in
the microgrids. This obstacle could be removed by educating
the microgrid consumers about the anticipated benefits. The
financial incentives offered to consumers, who would consider load scheduling strategies, is the most powerful driver
for performing load scheduling. Furthermore, the emergence
of smart metering as well as state-of-the-art devices and
building management systems have helped reduce this barrier (Figure 2). Proper scheduling and data acquisition tools
are available to advise consumers and perform load scheduling autonomously with minimal consumer intervention.
These tools may be used by a building energy management
system to optimally schedule and coordinate loads.
Regulatory issues must be solved before planning a community microgrid deployment. Currently, there are several
regulatory aspects that are still unresolved, including



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015

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