ERDC-CERL Microgrids at Fixed Installations: Security and Economics

Presented By:
Melanie Johnson, U.S. Army Engineer, Research & Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Lab (CERL)
Date and Location:
Friday, March 2, 2012 - 1:00pm
NCSA Auditorium | Webcast
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Recent policy developments both internal and external to the Army and DOD increasingly encourage the military to decrease fossil fuel consumption, increase renewable energy resources, and seek higher electrical reliability standards.  These actions are intended to improve the readiness of military installations for electrical power outages and heighten their energy security.  However, most responses to these new policies take the form of standard renewable projects which in most cases are not capable of supplying all of the power and energy required for extended off-grid operation of critical loads.  Further, military installations in the United States generally procure all of their electrical needs from commercial utility companies, and have only small backup generation capabilities.  In order to support off-grid use of renewable energy assets and provide higher reliability backup generation capabilities, ERDC-CERL suggests islandable power systems referred to as microgrids.  These power systems use advanced controls to accommodate variable renewable resources and efficiently utilize diesel backup generation.  The discussion will review current microgrid implementation projects, including the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration Smart Power Infrastructure Demonstration for Energy Reliability and Security (JCTD SPIDERS).

This presentation will discuss a variety of security challenges that arise from the integration of advanced controls and communication into critical electrical distribution infrastructure.  These challenges primarily concern compliance with information assurance requirements.  In addition to the energy security benefits derived from microgrids, the discussion will cover potential pathways for generating business cases for microgrid systems.


Melanie D. Johnson is an Electrical Engineer in the Energy Branch of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL).  Melanie has been part of the Energy Branch at ERDC-CERL since 2008 working on projects focused on bringing alternative, renewable, and emerging energy sources to military applications.  The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) recognized Melanie as a New Face in Engineering in 2010 and she appeared in USA Today as part NSPE E-Week 2010 proceedings.  Melanie graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with an MS in Electrical Engineering specializing in power and energy systems.

Melanie’s current research focuses on applying distributed generation technologies to Army and military needs.  This work includes incorporating diverse distributed generation portfolios into microgrids, developing business cases for advanced microgrid control through energy economics, and information security for power distribution systems.  Her current duties include technical management of the Phase 2 SPIDERS microgrid at Fort Carson, CO.

Seminar Status:
About the TCIPG Seminar Series:

The seminar series is presented by the Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid (TCIPG) Project, an $18 million multi-university research effort whose partner institutions include the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Arizona State University, Dartmouth, and Washington State University. The TCIPG Project, a successor to the earlier NSF-funded TCIP Center, was founded in 2009 with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is housed in the Information Trust Institute, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.