Microgrids are one of the fastest growing clean energy changes municipalities are making. Make sure to look at our Microgrid Fact Sheet to see what a Microgrid can do for your community.

What is a microgrid?

A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability, or “islanding” capability, which means it can disconnect from the traditional grid and operate autonomously. This is helpful because if the larger grid goes down, in case of storms or other outages, the local microgrid can continue to provide power.

Microgrids often deliver heating and cooling in addition to electricity. Microgrids can be an effective and efficient way to heat and cool all of homes and buildings as well as providing electricity.


Pieces of a microgrid:

  • Generation assets - gas turbines, solar panels, wind turbines

  • Demand management - financial incentives and behavioral change through education

  • Storage - generally battery storage, but can be thermal storage or other energy storage

  • Distribution  - the power lines and heating and cooling pipes

What are the benefits of running on a microgrid?

  • Resilient - Microgrids are resilient because they make and deliver local energy, and can be “islanded” during outages on the larger grid.

  • Efficiency - Microgrids do a great job of increasing energy efficiency and utilizing renewable energy while decreasing costs. Microgrids can provide combined heat and power (CHP), using waste heat from making electricity to heat buildings that are on their grid.

  • Demand Side management - Because they have local generation, they reduce peak demand on the overall grid as well as helping reduce the demand for power to heat or cool buildings.

  • Price - Microgrids can be cheaper to the because frequently there are no delivery tariffs paid to maintain the larger grid.

Success Story:

There are microgrids already in place in Massachusetts. One system is set up in the Cambridge-Boston district. Veolia Energy installed a system that provides district heating, cooling, and electricity to local residents. For heating, this system of steam pipes pushes environmentally friendly thermal energy, or as Veolia calls it, “Green Steam,” throughout the city. This Green Steam recycles thermal energy previously lost to the environment. In addition to heating, Cambridge’s microgrid produces 250 megawatts of electricity.

We want to help you establish a micro-grid project in your town.  Contact us at info@massclimateaction.net to learn if your town is one of the ones already started, or how to begin the process of creating one!

Additional Resources:

Decided a microgrid is right for your community? Here are some steps to follow:

  • Find someone in your town/city to champion the project. Make sure there’s available staff to dedicate to the project

  • Find where in your community you interact with utility companies

  • Identify your anchor load: a public or private building that will soon undergo a capital retrofit of the energy systems. Use surrounding loads to create a team of stakeholders who can help with the project

  • Approach the utility company and ask if they’d like to participate in a microgrid feasibility analysis

  • If your project is large enough to justify a CHP Partnership, work with your technical assistance provider, like the CHP TAPS, to discusses the screening process. Make sure you set aside ample time, energy data is tough to collect

  • Explore state and federal programs that will assist with funding, grants, etc. Some of these programs are the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources’ META grants, and the CHP TAPS.

  • Utilize the forms from MA Save’s Guide to submitting CHP applications to collect the correct energy data for your screening analysis

Some questions to consider:

  • Who are the largest energy users in your community?

  • In case of a power outage, which facilities are the most important to keep online?

  • Does your community currently have any distributed energy resources (e.g solar, etc.)?

  • Which is a bigger challenge: energy costs or reliability?

  • Who are potential “project champions” within your community?

The Solar and Storage Investment Tax Credit provides a number of cost incentives for commercial and residential buildings who run on a microgrid:




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