LES Community Microgrid

Innovative thinking + existing infrastructure provide community benefits

Commissioned in October 2020, the LES Community Microgrid normally functions as a part of the bulk electric system. Should the need arise, however (e.g., a large or persistent outage occurs in the Lincoln area), the microgrid has the ability to power a portion of the downtown Lincoln area as an island, isolated from the greater electrical grid. 

The LES Community Microgrid can serve critical city, county, state and even federal facilities, as well as valuable support infrastructure, providing a powered area to work from while those agencies are focused on rendering aid and restoring normalcy to the community. 

What is a microgrid?

Microgrids are localized grids that can disconnect from the traditional grid to operate autonomously. Because they are able to operate while the main grid is down, microgrids can strengthen grid resilience and help mitigate grid disturbances as well as function as a grid resource for faster system response and recovery. (The Role of Microgrids in Helping to Advance the Nation's Energy System, U.S. DOE, energy.gov)

A community microgrid usually serves critical facilities in a town or city and often has some government funding. Its primary purpose is to ensure power to services that people can't live without for an extended period of time. (Choosing the Type of Microgrid that is Right for Your Operation, microgridknowledge.com)

Video // Microgrids: Evolving the Power Grid (International District Energy Association)
Key features & benefits of the LES Community Microgrid

Ensures resilient electric service to critical local government facilities and various support infrastructure, even in the event of prolonged regional outages.  

Anchored by a dual-fuel generator — operating on both natural gas and diesel — that is capable of balancing load and generation for the isolated area.

Supported by existing distributed energy resources in the downtown area, which include five customer-owned solar facilities and a thermal energy storage system.



Looking ahead: battery storage resource project

LES is moving forward with a battery storage project to further strengthen the community microgrid. Additional benefits are anticipated to include:

  • Supporting local transmission and distribution system reliability by deferring load during peak periods.
  • Charging (buying) electricity at low prices and discharging (selling) at higher prices.
  • Assisting with reliably balancing load and generation.
  • Further development of energy storage knowledge and experience within LES.

Following an open request for proposal in 2021, LES contracted for a 3-megawatt, four-hour zinc battery. The project will be developed by Wattmore, a Colorado-based clean technology and renewable project development company. The battery project is expected to be connected within the microgrid by 2025.

The zinc battery technology, manufactured by Eos, is nonflammable, nonhazardous and designed to be installed in densely populated areas.

Energy storage resource project presentation to LES Administrative Board