The electric grid and related utility business models are undergoing dramatic transformation and facing new challenges and market pressures. The future of the electric grid promises a platform that delivers resilient and clean electricity to customers. Microgrids are considered one solution to challenges facing communities and the electric grid.

Microgrids are defined by the U.S. Department of Energy as a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources (DERs) with clearly defined boundaries that acts as a single, controllable entity and can connect and disconnect from the grid to operate in both grid-connected or island mode.

Microgrids have the ability to:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions

  • Enable integration of renewable energy sources

  • Support and modernize the local electricity distribution system

  • Provide energy resilience for critical facilities during electrical grid outages

Contact Information: Please reach out to microgrids@masscec.com if you have any questions regarding our microgrids related programming.


MassCEC Microgrids Activities:

MassCEC seeks to catalyze the development of community microgrids where such infrastructure can provide a range of benefits to ratepayers, utilities, and society.  To support those endeavors, MassCEC has taken several steps to grow the community microgrid market in the Commonwealth.

  • Community Microgrids Program: Seeks to catalyze the development of community microgrids throughout Massachusetts to lower customer energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and provide increased energy resilience. The program intends to award funding for feasibility assessments to advance proposed microgrid projects through the early project origination stages and attract third-party investment to these opportunities. 

Market Reports

  • Microgrids Study: In 2014, MassCEC commissioned the Benefits, Models, Barriers and Suggested Policy Initiatives for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts study to identify the benefits, barriers, and suggested policy initiatives to bolster a microgrid market in Massachusetts.

  • Boston Microgrid Workshops: MassCEC co-developed and participated in a series of microgrid business model workshops together with the City of Boston and the Pace Energy and Climate Center to explore business and finance models for community microgrids. The series of three workshops led to the development of a straw proposal for a multi-user microgrid that could be used as a template for pilot project in Massachusetts.

  • Boston Community Energy Study: MassCEC provided funding for the study to help raise awareness about the opportunities for district-scale energy infrastructure development in Boston. The study was initiated to identify “hot spots” for potential community energy solutions.

Regulatory Context

  • Regulatory Barriers: Historically, microgrids have served only one user, such as a hospital or university. Untapped “community” microgrids, serving a range of building owners and stretching across property boundaries, have not taken hold due to a range of challenges including concerns over utility regulations and uncertainty of revenue opportunities and business models. Expanding the development of community microgrids requires exploration of new business and finance models and an openness from policymakers to explore new regulatory frameworks.

  • DPU Grid Modernization: Restructuring utility regulatory frameworks to enable microgrid development offers an opportunity to build a more resilient and renewable grid. In June 2014, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) issued an order requiring each Massachusetts utility to develop and implement a 10-year grid modernization plan. MA Department of Public Utilities cites microgrids as one strategy among several to meet multiple broadly shared objectives in the Grid Modernization Process Final Report.

Energy Resilience

Microgrids offer the ability to provide power to customers that are hit by severe storms or other events that cause wide-spread power outage and as a component of resiliency planning for critical facilities like hospitals.

  • Community Clean Energy Resiliency InitiativePart of the Commonwealth’s climate adaption and mitigation efforts, this $40 million dollar grant program is administered by DOER and targeted at providing clean energy technologies, including microgrids, to municipalities to increase their resiliency.

  • Other MassCEC Initiatives: MassCEC is pursuing a number of energy resilience pilots and initiatives.  Consistent with our mission, energy resilience efforts supported by MassCEC engage clean energy technologies and solutions on their own, or in combination with existing fossil fuel assets.