Bayfield County partners with Xcel Energy to construct microgrid

Bayfield County is working towards energy independence
Xcel Energy
Xcel Energy(Xcel Energy)
Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:05 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 19, 2023 at 2:07 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, WI. (Northern News Now) - Xcel Energy and Bayfield County announced their partnership Thursday for plans to construct a new microgrid.

According to the news release, the electric company and county signed an agreement to partner to construct a microgrid under an innovative new utility program.

Through Xcel Energy’s EMPOWER Resiliency program, the county will build a microgrid to enhance their emergency services and response system.

This will make sure it is capable of operating in the event of a utility outage without interruption.

The program is designed to be technology unbiased and allows customers to choose resiliency options to best meet their needs.

“Delivering safe, reliable power to our customers is at the core of Xcel Energy’s business,” said Brian Elwood, general manager, Customer and Community Service. “We understand some customers have exceptional resiliency needs to operate their facilities. We have a long history of partnership with Bayfield County and excited to partner with them on this project to realize their resiliency goals.”

Bayfield County’s project allows it to isolate the county jail and courthouse from the utility grid in the event of an outage or emergency.

Xcel Energy will own, operate, and maintain the electrical distribution system components connecting the two buildings.

The county will own the distributed energy resources such as solar panels, battery energy storage systems, and back-up diesel generators.

While isolated, both the jail and courthouse can be served from any of the distributed energy resources within the microgrid.

“Bayfield County’s job is to provide essential services at all times,” said Bayfield County Administrator Mark Abeles-Allison. “Through a unique partnership between Xcel Energy, Chequamegon Bay Renewables, Jolma Electric and MuGrid Analytics, this utility project will ensure energy delivery during severe weather events through a cost-effective combination of solar, battery storage and generator power.”

Bayfield County is working towards energy independence as the first courthouse and jail in Wisconsin served by a microgrid.

“Nothing is more important than reliable energy and our environment,” said Bayfield County Board Chair Dennis Pocernich. “This project demonstrates Bayfield County’s collaboration with Xcel Energy and our willingness to jointly explore innovative methods to ensure critical service delivery continuance.”

Bayfield County received a $273,714 grant from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s Office of Energy Innovation for the project.

The project is expected to be completed in mid-2023.