Tapping the energy of some Asheville, NC, citizens will help Asheville tap into a trend in energy. The concept will combine solar energy, batteries, and small distribution grids.

The citizens group is called CSM, for Critical Services Microgrid. Here’s how the industry magazine Microgrid Knowledge describes the concept.

“CSM plans to begin with a nanogrid that takes advantage of solar that will be installed on a county building — the Family Justice Center (FJC) parking lot deck — thanks to the county’s solar RFP. The nanogrid would provide resilience to the emergency management center in the building.  (Project overview right.)

To that FJC solar energy the project will add batteries, microgrid controls, and DERMS [distributed energy resources management system]. “Ultimately, CSM’s goal is to install several nanogrids that could be scaled up to a virtual power plant,” said one of the CSM members. “Or we could wire them together to make them all one campus, with one transmission station, a microgrid of nanogrids,”

Students from the University of North Carolina Asheville and North Carolina State University will help audit the approach along with faculty to gather data about the system. They will extend the energy concept based on their work.

Here’s how CSM describes itself:

In early 2020, a group of seasoned professionals in energy, IT, and engineering came together with a goal to improve our community and its future. To build resilience so everyone could thrive and adapt as the world changes in big ways – including due to climate change, pandemics, and natural resources under stress. The Critical Services Microgrid (CSM) Group was born from our combined experience in renewable energy and off-grid energy systems.

This group’s goal is to encourage the City of Asheville and Buncombe County to evaluate the costs and benefits of a local microgrid that supports essential services. Also called a Critical Services Microgrid (CSM). The objective for the microgrid is to strengthen energy resilience on a campus of public buildings in downtown Asheville.

ECC readers can take away lessons we have seen before. Improving energy is a team sport. The energy environment is changing. Companies, cities, and consumers all need to work together.


Feature image from the CSM project document.