Amy Morsch

Microgrids: What Every City Should Know


Microgrids: What Every City Should Know

June 2017

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Cities are at the forefront of the national conversation about climate change. Increasingly, elected officials and city residents are finding ways to deploy more clean energy and reduce their carbon footprints. They are also looking for ways to reduce the risks that climate change poses to life and property, both today and into the future. Microgrids can help cities and businesses increase resilience, reduce emissions, and achieve other policy goals such as brownfield redevelopment or smart city implementation. This brief seeks to introduce microgrids as a potential solution to local challenges, describe current financial and legal barriers, and outline the role that local governments can play. A deeper exploration of several of these issues is available in the C2ES report “Microgrid Momentum: Building Efficient, Resilient Power.” 

Key Takeaways

  • Microgrids currently provide a tiny fraction of U.S. electricity, but their capacity is expected to more than double in the next three years.
  • Each microgrid’s unique combination of power source, customer, geography, and market can make financing these projects a challenge.
  • Microgrids offer cities the opportunity to deploy more zero-emission electricity sources.
  • Microgrids can make use of energy that would otherwise be lost.
  • Local governments can support micro grid technologies by setting the policy environment, supporting project development, and participating in development of projects.
Amy Morsch
Doug Vine

Local Climate Action: Cities Tackle Emissions of Commercial Buildings

Local Climate Action:
Cities Tackle Emissions of Commercial Buildings

September 2016

By Todd McGarvey and Amy Morsch

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As a significant source of emissions, cities have an important role to play in addressing the carbon footprint of activities occurring within their boundaries. Among many actions targeting different sectors, cities are actively pursuing improvements in the energy performance of commercial buildings. This brief explores several policies that leading cities are adopting: energy use benchmarking and disclosure mandates, retro-commissioning and retrofitting policies, and requirements for building upgrades to meet current codes. Our review finds these policies stand to deliver and facilitate emissions reductions in cities that adopt them. However, it should be noted that achieving deep reductions and a true market transformation will require collaboration between cities, state and federal agencies, and a range of non-government entities. The need for such a collaborative approach is applicable not just to addressing emissions from buildings, but indeed is relevant broadly to city efforts to reduce emissions.
Amy Morsch
Todd McGarvey
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