How to Overcome Commercial and Industrial (C&I) Interconnection Delays with Microgrids

Spurred by a supportive policy environment for new manufacturing construction and megasite development, there’s been a surge of interest in on-site clean energy production amongst commercial and industrial (C&I) owners and managers. However, project developers and engineering, procurement, and construction (EPCs) firms tasked with deploying these systems are encountering a significant hurdle: interconnection transmission delays.


Here, we explore how the modern microgrid can empower C&I project developers and EPC firms by mitigating the impact of interconnection transmission delays.


Potential for Stalled Manufacturing Development


Global and domestic manufacturers, incentivized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and CHIPS Act, are leading a factory-building renaissance across the U.S. Since the end of 2021, real manufacturing construction spending has doubled.


But this boom could potentially hit a roadblock due to the need for more ready-to-go megasites. Megasites refer to large-scale industrial or commercial developments that span a significant land area, typically involving multiple facilities or structures. Industrial megasites are dedicated to manufacturing, logistics, or distribution operations with extensive warehouses, production facilities, and transportation networks. Commercial megasites typically cater to shopping centers, entertainment complexes, retail outlets, restaurants, or office spaces.


With corporate sustainability goals and investor demands for decarbonization more urgent than ever, business leaders are seeking construction locations at megasites with access to low-cost, renewable energy sources.


Unfortunately, the queue for new grid interconnections has reached a standstill as requests and approvals drag on for years. The total capacity of energy projects in U.S. interconnection queues grew 40% year-over-year in 2022, with lengths forecasted to increase further as the IRA’s historic funding level drives more renewable energy projects.


Facing the potential for a lack of available construction locations due to prolonged interconnection delays, EPCs firms with C&I and manufacturing developments will need new opportunities to deploy renewable energy generation rapidly and cost-effectively.


The Modern Microgrid Offers a Solution


With high competition for the best building spots, developers and EPCs working with companies to build new facilities should consider the benefits of using microgrids instead of hoping for the ideal megasite.


The modern microgrid can play a significant role in manufacturing development and help address the challenges associated with interconnection queue delays. Here’s how:


Flexible and Rapid Deployment
The modern microgrid offers a flexible and rapid deployment option for C&I and manufacturing developments. Unlike traditional grid interconnections that face expensive, years-long approval processes and infrastructure upgrades, EPCs can implement microgrids swiftly. And, unlike legacy microgrids that rely on centralized controllers, the modern microgrid operates in a standardized ecosystem that can build itself from the ground up.


With modular components and pre-engineered systems, microgrids let developers adapt to project timelines, accelerating the deployment of on-site power generation and ensuring energy availability for new C&I facilities without relying on transmission interconnections.


Scalability and Modular Growth
Decentralized microgrids offer scalability, allowing for incremental growth and capacity expansion. Facilities or entire fleets can start with smaller microgrids and gradually increase their capacity as demand rises without solely relying on grid interconnections.


This modular approach ensures smoother development and reduces the impact of transmission interconnection delays on project timelines. It also future-proofs manufacturing facilities by providing flexibility for incorporating emerging energy technologies.


Localized Renewable Power Generation
Microgrids are localized power generation sources that use distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar panels, wind turbines, or small-scale gas generators. Incorporating microgrids with decentralized controls reduces reliance on the primary grid for electricity supply, ensuring a more reliable and resilient power supply and again minimizing the impact of interconnection queue delays.


When properly sized, the on-site power generation modern microgrid can deliver complete energy independence, completely eliminating dependence on external power sources that require grid interconnections.


Energy Resilience and Reliability
The microgrid’s modular design also means EPCs can tailor the system’s size and number of components to meet additional C&I client objectives, such as improving energy resilience.


Interconnection queue delays may result from grid infrastructure limitations or natural disasters. Microgrids with energy storage capabilities, such as batteries, can provide backup power during grid outages or delays and overcome the intermittency of renewable energy sources. This enhances resilience and ensures uninterrupted operations, even in challenging situations.


Economic Benefits
Once commissioned, microgrids also offer greater control over energy distribution and load management. Through advanced monitoring and control systems, facilities’ or fleets’ power supply is optimized based on real-time demand and supply conditions to enable better utilization of available energy resources.


The modern microgrid can allow system owners to participate in demand response programs, selling excess power back to the grid during peak demand periods and generating additional revenue streams.


EDGE Microgrid Control and Optimization
The Heila EDGE simplifies and standardizes DERs by converting them into intelligent agents that interact and create systems to build self-managing microgrids and fleets from the ground up. The platform’s innovative decentralized design enables rapid microgrid deployments through:

  1. Simplifying microgrid controls
  2. Standardized component ecosystem
  3. Optimized asset compatibility and performance
  4. Access to cost consistency for better site economics
  5. Minimized failure risks


By incorporating microgrids’ flexible and modular design into manufacturing construction projects, developers and EPCs can side-step interconnection queue delays and help accelerate the factory boom while ensuring easy scalability, resilient energy, cost savings, and sustainable growth.


Want to learn more about how to unleash the potential of the modern microgrid? Click here to download your copy of the Ultimate Guide to C&I Microgrids for EPCs today.