WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — The International District Energy Association (IDEA) and the Microgrid Resources Coalition (MRC) announced a merger agreement to integrate the resources and technical and regulatory expertise of the MRC into IDEA as part of a collaborative strategy to strengthen information exchange and advocacy efforts aimed at improving the technical, regulatory, and policy landscape for microgrids.

“Microgrids are a growing segment of the energy industry and integral to our work at IDEA,” said Rob Thornton, IDEA president and CEO. “Today, we are witnessing a paradigm shift from remote central station power plants toward more localized, distributed generation for enhanced reliability, resiliency, and energy efficiency, especially in cities, communities, and campuses. IDEA members have been operating CHP [combined heat and power ]/district energy microgrids for decades, long before the term ‘microgrid’ was even coined. IDEA and MRC have much in common in terms of membership and mission, and we share an objective to inform energy policy makers and regulators about the myriad benefits microgrids can deliver. We are eager to bring our resources to deepen our partnership with MRC, integrating the regulatory and policy expertise of MRC with the practical, operational insights of over 2,100 IDEA members around the globe to accelerate microgrid deployment in North America.”

“The MRC was principally formed to advocate for a level playing field for microgrids in the energy regulatory arena,” said Tom Nyquist of Princeton University and chair of MRC. “Drawing from our operational experience, we have been informing regulators and advising policy makers, electric utilities, and independent system operators on the range of benefits that microgrids can produce for end-users, as well as the local and regional power grid. By operating in parallel with the traditional electricity grid, microgrids like the one at Princeton University, can shift demand for expensive peak power and reduce strain on the local distribution network. We are also able to optimize thermal energy and integrate intermittent renewable resources. On those occasions when severe weather interrupts regular utility service, the microgrid at Princeton can ‘island’ and isolate from the grid, to provide our own continuous power, heating and cooling for critical research facilities on campus.”

IDEA joined MRC as a founding member in 2014, and all current MRC member companies are also IDEA members. Since members of both organizations have common perspectives on the energy industry, this merger is said to be a natural step.

While microgrids are gaining attention due to their resilience benefits, the early stage market still faces barriers to widespread implementation such as conflicting regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. Through the merger, IDEA and MRC will combine technical, regulatory and policy resources to educate and engage with federal and state energy regulatory and policy agencies, as well as utility business leaders and local governments.

IDEA is a nonprofit trade association that works to foster the success of members as leaders in providing district heating, district cooling, and cogeneration (also known as combined heat and power or CHP) services. For more information, visit www.districtenergy.org.

The MRC is a consortium of leading microgrid owners, operators, developers, suppliers, and investors formed as an unincorporated nonprofit association. For more information, visit www.microgridresources.com.

Publication date: 6/8/2016

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