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First microgrid utility division in the state produces clean, resilient energy

Cuyahoga County

Cuyahoga County, OH

To attract businesses seeking highly resilient electricity and foster the development of local, clean energy Cuyahoga County set up a public utility division specifically for managing microgrids, making it the first county in Ohio to do so.

Topics Covered

Energy Efficiency
Energy Disruptions

Cost

Initial: Zero Upfront Cost

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Project Status

In Progress/Under Construction since 2022

Gov Champion

Sustainability Officer

Problem Addressed

To provide entities with reliable, clean energy Cuyahoga County pursued a microgrid build that they initially lacked the infrastructure for.

The need for municipal and state governments to build energy resilience has become increasingly urgent in recent years. The state of Ohio understood this when it proposed a $100 million microgrid build in Cleveland, supported by the city, Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Public Power, and the Cleveland Foundation. However, when the initial plan came to a standstill, the county decided to take matters into its own hands and built out a template to construct microgrids in its jurisdiction.

The primary benefit of microgrids is that they are self-sufficient, and can continue to provide power in the event of a power outage. According to Cuyahoga County's sustainability officer, Mike Foley, “Our country is seeing stronger and more violent storms causing large-scale power outages, which can cost entities millions of dollars."

Often businesses and commercial entities are among those hit the hardest by power outages. Because of the increased financial risk associated with these power outages, businesses are taking a city’s energy resilience programs into consideration when scouting locations for new offices. To best encourage commercial growth, Cuyahoga County needs to provide its entities with reliable, clean energy. But they aren't able to provide this support without first establishing the proper microgrid infrastructure.

Solutions Used

To support microgrid builds, the county developed a public utility division to specifically manage their construction.

This public utility will eventually provide electric, natural gas, and thermal energy to areas qualified for renewable energy, microgrids, and cogeneration.

The new utility issued a consultant RFQ in September 2021 in preparation for the county's RFP for a microgrid developer. Aiming to award the RFP by Summer 2022, the county is seeking a developer that can finance the construction, operations, and maintenance of energy services, including, but not limited to microgrids.

As outlined in the RFQ, these microgrids will be islandable and use as much locally generated clean energy as possible, feeding into the larger transmission grid so they can purchase or sell power. The microgrids are slated to create on-site generation and provide distinct distribution of fuel and thermal utilities. Because the microgrids will be islandable, businesses and commercial entities can confidently locate offices in the city knowing that energy resilience is a priority.

“The creation of the Division of Public Utilities will allow us to build innovative microgrids that will provide highly resilient power to businesses and commercial entities that need it,” said Armond Budish, county executive, who conceived the idea for the new utility. “By providing power that has an uptime of 99.999%, we can guarantee that, even if the main power grid goes down, those on the microgrid won’t lose power for more than five minutes in a year.”

Outcomes

1

A new utility division specifically tasked with pursuing microgrids in order to develop the county's development of clean, local energy

2

An RFQ that will provide the county with a consultant to produce its bidding documents that describe the engineering and legal scope of the project

3

Progress towards a reliable, clean energy source, projected to save entities millions of dollars by providing power that has an uptime of 99.99%

4

A plan to develop three to six microgrids in at least three designated areas throughout the county

Who Should Consider

Cities or counties looking to establish microgrid infrastructure so progress can be made to provide clean, resilient energy using microgrids.

Last Updated

Mar 21st, 2022

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