Xcel Energy and Bayfield County have signed an agreement to partner to construct Wisconsin’s first microgrid under an innovative new utility program. Through Xcel Energy’s EMPOWER Resiliency program, Bayfield County in far northern Wisconsin, will build a microgrid to enhance the county’s emergency services and response system, ensuring it is capable of operating in the event of a utility outage without interruption.

Xcel Energy was the first utility in Wisconsin to begin offering a comprehensive program to support microgrids and other resiliency projects for large business customers and governmental entities who require a higher than standard service reliability. The program is designed to be technology agnostic and allows customers to choose resiliency options to best meet their needs. 

“Delivering safe, reliable power to our customers is at the core of Xcel Energy’s business,” said Brian Elwood, general manager, Customer and Community Service. “We understand some customers have exceptional resiliency needs to operate their facilities. We have a long history of partnership with Bayfield County and excited to partner with them on this project to realize their resiliency goals.” 

Bayfield County’s 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 (solar panels, battery energy storage system and back-up diesel generator). While isolated (or ‘islanded’), both the jail and courthouse can be served from any of the distributed energy resources within the microgrid. 

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