In 2000, a major power outage hit Chelsea, a city seated across the river from Boston. They suffered a total power loss, giving community leaders an energy resiliency wake up call. In 2021, local organizations including GreenRoots stepped up alongside their partner Resilient Urban Neighborhoods to ensure the city’s most impacted residents are protected if their grid ever goes dark again. One of their primary goals is to strategically install a network of microgrids in the city, prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.
Microgrids are networks of batteries, solar panels, and backup generators that switch on when power from the main electric grid fails. These mini systems act like energy islands, storing affordable energy for use when demand is low and powering up to keep the lights on when the regional electric grids are overwhelmed during peak demand. At the same time, price rates from local corporate energy provider Eversource can dramatically rise. Taking this tech a step further, engineer David Dayton’s planned system in Chelsea uses cloud-based software, allowing networked buildings to tap into these energy reserves without being physically connected and turning them into “virtual power plants.”