Microgrid partnership with Xcel Energy coming to Bayfield Co.

Bayfield County will soon be the site of another microgrid in the State of Wisconsin, in partnership with Xcel Energy.

Through Xcel’s EMPOWER Resiliency program, Bayfield County will build a microgrid to enhance emergency services and response systems, while ensuring it’s capable of operating in the event of a power outage.

Xcel Energy says the program is designed to allow customers to choose resiliency options to best meet their needs.

The project allows it to isolate the county jail and courthouse from the utility grid in the event of an outage or emergency. Through the program, Xcel Energy will own, operate and maintain the electrical distribution system components connecting the two buildings, while the county will own the distributed energy resources, like solar panels, battery energy storage system and back-up diesel generator. While isolated, both the jail and courthouse can be served from any of the distributed energy resources within the microgrid.

Bayfield County is working towards energy independence as the first courthouse and jail in Wisconsin served by a microgrid.

The county joins the growing presence of microgrids in the state. Alliant Energy has operated a microgrid in Sauk City for several years, and recently completed construction on a community-wide microgrid in Boaz, according to representatives with Alliant.

As part of their project, Bayfield County received a $273,714 grant from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s Office of Energy Innovation. The project is expected to be completed in mid-2023.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to include that Alliant Energy has a microgrid in Sauk City. An earlier version of this story said Bayfield County was the first microgrid location in the State of Wisconsin.