Graham Sustainability Institute

Microgrids, Alternative Energy and Rural Communities

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Photo of Julie Michalski, Dow Fellow, UM Alumna

"On a warm day in America, the buzzing of transmission lines can be heard among the sounds of birds, crickets, and cicadas. Electric infrastructure, although considered an eyesore by some, has become part of the everyday landscape, moving energy from its birthplace to the homes of millions. Despite the grid’s visibility, few people in the U.S. consider the efforts necessary to keep the grid functioning: power has nearly always appeared instantly at the flip of a switch.

"Yet major blackouts occurred in 2003, 2011, and 2012, and approximately 36.7 million people experienced power outages in 2017. The grid is known to be vulnerable to electromagnetic and cyber threats, and electricity costs are projected to continue rising."

— Excerpt from the article Microgrids for Micro-Communities, by Julie Michalski (U-M Alumna - JD/Law 2018, and Dow Fellow), Michigan Technology Law Review, Vol. 27:145. Michalski explains how policies can significantly discourage or encourage the development of micro-grid systems, which are seen as a promising future for rural populations.  This work shares the learnings of policies affecting microgrids in Alaska.

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