My first experience with microgrids came after Hurricane Sandy. Our house lost power during the storm, but I was lucky to be able to buy a new 7,500-watt gasoline-fueled generator at Home Depot. Then I found an electrician who knew how to open and install the generator. Oh, and I needed to get fuel too, so I bought a five-gallon gasoline container and drove around until I could find a gas station that was operating. Most of the stations had lost power, but it was easy to spot the open station because there were scores of people standing in line to get gas.
So I went to the back of the line and waited for an hour or so to fill my container. Then I drove home, put the fuel in the gas tank, and started the generator. We had been without power for a day or so at this point, but all of a sudden, like magic, we had light, our refrigerator started running, and we could heat our home.
Finally, when power was restored to the grid nearly three weeks later, I called back to the electrician, who disconnected our generator, and closed the circuit breaker to reconnect our house to the grid. It was quite an adventure, and I later realized that I had designed and operated my personal microgrid!!
While the grid was still out of service, we were surprised to see that downtown Garden City was bustling, because for some reason the central part of the village had full power. The restaurants were jammed, and a waiter told me he made more in tips after the storm than he had ever made before. Wouldn't it have been great if the entire village could have maintained power!!
Well, now there is a big push in New York and other states to create advanced microgrids to serve critical facilities and possibly entire communities by using distributed energy resources (DER's) and hardening the local distribution system. These new systems will operate in parallel with the macrogrid during normal times, and isolate from the grid during grid outages, just like my house!!"
-Bob Foxen, CEO