Microgrid Certification Enhances Huntsville Center Energy Program

A U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville (Huntsville Center) program implemented a certification process ensuring expertise among the Huntsville Center project managers working to deploy microgrids at military installations around the world.

Huntsville Center’s ERCIP is a subsection of the Defense-Wide Military Construction (MILCON) Program specifically intended to fund projects that save energy and water, reduce energy costs, improve energy resilience / security, and contribute to mission assurance.

Huntsville Center’s Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP) currently has nine microgrid projects in construction, 46 projects in the design process, and 48 potential projects coming their way.

Microgrids are local electrical systems operating independently from the grid during times of emergency response. A microgrid also can reduce costs by providing grid services to the regular utility provider, such as demand response and frequency regulation.

Brandy Wilkerson, ERCIP program manager, reached out to industry-leading training provider TONEX, to guide instruction leading to the certification of 18 Huntsville Center project managers.

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TONEX was recommended to Wilkerson by co-workers for successful training sessions in the past. Wilkerson said the training did not disappoint.

“TONEX was very thorough and open to adjusting training topics on the spot to tailor to our specific program,” she said.

“Also, TONEX is very hands on and included many tools to allow the students to perform calculations to understand sizing of microgrid systems.”

Wilkerson said the certification process for ERCIP personnel means stakeholders are assured the microgrid planning and design team received extended training to scope and make recommendations ensuring the installation is properly sizing their equipment.

The ERCIP Validation Program – the Army’s ERCIP requirement development experts – provides planning and technical support to the Army by validating all ERCIP projects before they are submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense to compete for funding.

Huntsville Center validates project definition, technical feasibility, appropriate technology, estimated energy savings, and associated Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) by calculating the Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR) and payback years through a comprehensive process.

“This certification is giving the taxpayer assurance that the federal government is obtaining training to do the best at their job as possible with the least amount of time and funding,” Wilkerson said.

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The objective of the training was microgrid planning, design, design reviews and implementation efforts to assist project managers and technical staff during project development.

“The training focused on components of the microgrid controls, energy management systems (SCADA), and various modes of operations,” she said.

Wilkerson said the instructor placed a huge emphasis on different energy storage solutions (besides batteries), cybersecurity and commissioning efforts.

Dominic Ragucci, ERCIP project manager, said the hands-on portion of the training was beneficial, said, as it allowed student to determine sizing components of a microgrid using several factors such as load profiles, renewable energy sources, battery capacity and grid interaction.

“We were able to use multiple algorithms such as Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) and Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) to determine projects resilience and cost savings effectiveness,” Ragucci said.

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