Murkowski: Partnership on Microgrids Will Lead to Lower Energy Costs for Alaskans and Stronger Grid Resiliency for U.S.

DOE Selects Alaska Partnership for Major R&D Award

September 13, 2017
01:45 PM

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today commended the Department of Energy (DOE) for awarding a $6.2 million grant to an Alaskan partnership that includes the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), the City of Cordova, the Cordova Electric Cooperative (CEC), the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC), three national laboratories, and several other universities and industry partners.

“I’m pleased to see the Department of Energy recognize the ingenuity of Alaskan innovators,” Murkowski said. “We have significant energy challenges in many of our remote communities, but we are also an incubator of microgrid and hybrid-energy system solutions that will meet the growing challenges of grid reliability and resilience. It is important that Alaskans build a meaningful partnership with the Department and the national labs to integrate renewable resources into our microgrids, because that will provide more affordable and sustainable energy to Alaskans and Americans in rural communities all across the United States.”

The award was one of seven announced as part of the Grid Modernization Lab Consortium. The project, “Resilient Alaskan Distribution System Improvements using Automation, Network Analysis, Control, and Energy Storage (RADIANCE),” will “enhance the resilience methods for distribution grids under harsh weather, cyber-threats, and dynamic grid conditions using multiple networked microgrids, energy storage, and early-stage grid technologies.”

In announcing the awards, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said, “A resilient, reliable, and secure power grid is essential to the Nation’s security, economy, and the vital services that Americans depend on every day. As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling. By leveraging the world-class innovation of the National Laboratories and their partners, this investment will keep us moving forward to create yet more real-world capabilities that the energy sector can put into practice to continue improving the resilience and security of the country’s critical energy infrastructure.”

In June, Murkowski convened a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in Cordova, Alaska, to examine the innovation of microgrids and hybrid energy systems being used in rural Alaska. She and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., heard from community and industry leaders about how to deploy these energy technologies to provide reliable, clean, and more affordable power to rural and off-grid communities.

Four of the field hearing witnesses were from institutions that co-authored the application for this award, including Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, Gwen Holdmann of ACEP, Meera Kohler of AVEC, and Dr. Abraham Ellis of Sandia National Laboratory.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In June, she introduced her broad, bipartisan Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017, which would charter a microgrid program at the Department of Energy to increase their use and effectiveness, identify barriers to deployment, and promote hybrid-microgrid systems. 

Click here for more information on DOE’s Resilient Distribution Systems Lab Call Awards.