A community microgrid like the new one in Brooklyn isn't about ditching public utilities like Consolidated Edison completely. It's essentially a sub-grid that still connects to the traditional grid. However, microgrids add resilience because they have the ability to disconnect in times of an emergency and still deliver power.
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In recent years, New Yorkers have had their share of big outages caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. As Crossland pointed out on, residents who had solar panels were surprised when they stopped working during Hurricane Sandy. It's actually a safety measure so utility workers don't get zapped.
But a local microgrid would keep running, providing power in a pinch. That sure beats waiting what could be a long time for Con Ed to restore power or even getting in line at Greenpeace's mobile solar truck.
The Brooklyn Microgrid also allows residents to buy and sell energy securely using a peer-to-peer network based on technology called Ethereum that was originally created for Bitcoin transactions, according to TAG. It monitors energy coming in and out of the system, including from batteries or solar and wind power. Residents get to buy power from the sources they want.
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Although Brooklyn is still generally regarded as being fairly trendy, microgrids aren't just some passing phase. They make sense, especially in areas prone to hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Getting one up and running is no easy task. There are regulations, network designs, contracts, financing, and system integration to consider. Despite the challenges, I expect we'll be seeing more communities create microgrids in the future, come hell or high water.