The Butler Farms microgrid, an agricultural microgrid project developed through an innovative partnership between Harnett County-based Butler Farms, local electric cooperative South River EMC and North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives, recently received Power magazine’s 2019 Distributed Energy Award. The magazine highlighted a number of the project’s winning attributes:
- Innovative microgrid improves system reliability and resiliency by seamlessly incorporating renewable energy, battery storage and emergency backup power into the grid
- Novel methane capture process collects valuable biogas and reduces greenhouse gas emissions
- Unique partnership benefits agriculture and power sectors, as well as cooperative members
The microgrid integrates components owned by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives with resources owned by Butler Farms and incorporates alternative energy sources, including biogas, solar and battery storage. During normal conditions, the microgrid connects to South River EMC’s distribution system to supplement and diversify traditional power resources. During outages, it can also operate in island mode to power the farm and surrounding homes.
This pilot project demonstrates how a microgrid located on a member’s property can be incorporated into the electric cooperatives’ distribution system, and it also serves as a case study for the ways agribusiness and utilities, two of our state’s most important industries, can work together to develop solutions that are mutually beneficial and support quality of life in North Carolina’s communities.
Learn more about this unique, sustainability-focused effort in this video or in the Energy and Innovation section of our website.