The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced more than $8 million in funding for seven microgrid projects, which it says will to help US towns and cities better prepare for extreme weather events and other potential electricity disruptions.

DOE is investing approximately $1.2 million in each of the seven projects, which are located in Alaska, California, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Tennessee and Washington.

Each project also includes a company cost share ranging from 20 per cent to about 50 per cent, says DOE.

With the funding, Alstom Grid, Inc will research and design community microgrid systems in Philadelphia, using portions of the former Philadelphia Navy Yard as a test bed; Minnesota-based Burr Energy will design and build a resilient microgrid for Olney, Maryland Town Center and Chicago-based ComEd will develop and test a commercial-grade microgrid controller that is capable of controlling a system of two or more interconnected microgrids.

The US Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) project aims to develop a commercially viable standardised microgrid controller that will allow a community to provide continuous power for critical loads, while GE Global Research aims to develop an enhanced microgrid control system by adding new capabilities, such as frequency regulation.

TDX Power, Inc. will engineer, design, simulate, and build a microgrid control system on Saint Paul Island, an island located in the Bering Sea hundreds of miles from mainland Alaska.

Finally, the Advanced Power and Energy Program at the University of California, Irvine will develop and test a generic microgrid controller intended to be readily adapted to manage a range of microgrid systems. With the California Independent System Operator Corporation providing technical advice, this project is expected to pave the way for the development of open source industry standards, says DOE.

Microgrids are localised grids that are usually connected to the more traditional electric grid but can also disconnect to operate autonomously and help mitigate grid disturbances.