Rep. Johnson: Severe weather punctuates need to modernize energy infrastructure

Categories: News,Steven Johnson News

With hundreds of thousands of households across Michigan left without power in the wake of severe storms, State Rep. Steven Johnson said circumstances like these emphasize the need to enable microgrid infrastructure in Michigan.

Johnson introduced key legislation in May that would allow for the use of microgrids for critical facilities such as fire departments, police, water treatment facilities, hospitals and schools – enabling energy users with standalone energy systems to disconnect from the main electric grid during outages to continue powering their facilities.

“With devastating storms growing more and more frequent, allowing microgrids to power critical facilities is a commonsense solution to ensuring the power stays on a critical at facilities like hospitals and fire and police stations when the main electric grid fails,” Johnson, of Wayland said. “In this case, we were simply lucky the damage wasn’t more extensive.”

Severe storms in July blew through the state. In southwest Michigan, nine of Detroit’s 34 fire stations lost power and critical facilities in West Michigan were left in the dark for days.

In late June, Johnson presented his microgrid proposal to the House Committee on Energy and received a broad, bipartisan support for the plan, House Bill 4477, including engineers, officials from the City of Grand Rapids, former military officials and energy experts.

Under current law, these facilities are unable to generate electricity through their own independent energy systems during outages on the main grid. The legislation would increase energy resiliency for facilities like schools, hospitals, water treatment plants and other services essential for the health, safety and general welfare of children, patients and residents. It also would implement a study on the use of microgrids for residential customers.