IEEE Electrification Magazine - March 2015 - 55

loop supply based on the load criticality. Moreover, the switches in the distribution network are replaced with fastresponse, high-reliability, communication-enabled switches.
These switches talk to each other in case of system faults and
intelligently disconnect the faulted area and reroute the
power to minimize fault impacts on other parts of the
microgrid. The interconnection to the utility grid should also
be provided with a switch at the point of common coupling to
receive islanding commands from the master controller and
disconnect the microgrid from the utility grid if necessary.

Master Controller Deployment
The master controller is the brain of the microgrid. The
microgrid scheduling in interconnected and islanded modes
is performed by the microgrid master controller based on
economic and security considerations. The master controller
determines the microgrid's interaction with the utility grid,
the decision to switch between interconnected and islanded
modes, and optimal operation of DERs and loads. The
microgrid master controller receives information from the
building controllers and accordingly schedules available
resources. It also sends price signals to buildings for load
management purposes. The primary operational objective of
the microgrid master controller is to maximize consumer
benefits, i.e., minimize electricity payments, without any
consumer interactions or compromising adjustable loads
performances. The microgrid master controller could use a
centralized control of loads via a direct load control, in which
loads are directly controlled by the master controller, or a
decentralized control of loads, in which loads are scheduled
within each building and the resultant aggregated consumption pattern is sent to the master controller.

Communication System Deployment
Under the concept of smart grids, communication systems are
being integrated with power systems more than ever. It is not
different for community microgrids. Community microgrids
need to install proper communication systems across the
microgrid to connect a variety of microgrid players together
and enable rapid and reliable data transfer among adjustable
loads, building controllers, and microgrid controllers.
Moreover, DERs must be equipped with communication systems to enable real-time monitoring and control and facilitate
load management plans.

solutions to the pressing challenges of economy, reliability,
and environment while providing unprecedented benefits for
local consumers as well as the power system as a whole.
Community microgrids would be built upon the existing utility distribution network; hence, these deployments would not
be successful unless fully supported by utility companies. As
this technology becomes more viable and advantageous,
greater involvement of utility companies would be needed to
ensure sustainable deployment to the point that utilities could
ensure the benefits and become promoters of community
microgrids. Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), the electric utility company in the greater Chicago area, was recently awarded
a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a
microgrid master controller with applications to community
microgrids. A selected group of leading authorities from manufacturers, consulting firms, software developers, universities,
and national labs active in the power and energy industry will
be led by ComEd in this effort. This effort not only provides
ComEd with an invaluable experience in transforming the traditional way of electricity supply and delivery and gaining
first-hand knowledge on future integrated grids but also paves
the way for other utilities that understand the urge to adopt
new business models and are ready to embrace changes.

Disclaimer
The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors
and do not necessarily reflect the positions or opinions of
any entity or organization with which any of the authors
may be affiliated.

For Further reading
Microgrid Exchange Group. (2011, Aug.). DOE Microgrid
Workshop Report. [Online]. Available: http://energy.gov/oe/

downloads/microgrid-workshop-report-august-2011

"Navigant research, microgrid deployment tracker 4Q13,
commercial/industrial, community/utility, institutional/campus, military, and remote microgrids: Operating, planned, and
proposed projects by world region," 2014.
EPRI, "Assessment of achievable potential from energy
efficiency and demand response programs in the U.S. (2010-
2030): Executive summary," Palo Alto, CA, 2009.
R. Smith. (2014, 5 Feb.). Assault on California power station
raises alarm on potential for terrorism. [Online]. US News.
Available: http://online. wsj. com/news/articles/SB1000142405270
2304851104579359141941621778

Biographies
conclusion
Community microgrids, which aim primarily at supplying
electricity for a group of consumers in a neighborhood or several connected neighborhoods in close proximity, have
emerged as an alternative to address the rising societal
demands for electric infrastructures that are able to provide
premium reliability and power quality levels while being economical and environmentally friendly. Community microgrids
were discussed in this article, and different components and
anticipated outcomes were elaborated upon. The studies
advocated that community microgrids be deliberated as viable

Shay Bahramirad (Shay.Bahramirad@comed.com) is a
manager of smart grid and technology at Commonwealth
Edison (ComEd), Chicago, Illinois.
Amin Khodaei is an assistant professor at the University
of Denver, Colorado.
Joseph Svachula is the vice president of engineering and
smart grid at Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Chicago,
Illinois.
Julio Romero Aguero is a senior director and executive advisor at Quanta Technology, LLC, Raleigh, North Carolina.

IEEE Electrific ation Magazine / March 2 0 1 5

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