Ocracoke Microgrid Tour Highlights Power Resilience and Member Engagement

Staff from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office met with leaders from North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives to tour the Ocracoke Island microgrid last month. Resilience has been a key priority for the Cooper administration, with the governor establishing the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resilience after the devastation of Hurricane Florence in 2018.

Supported by all the state’s electric cooperatives and completed in 2017, the Ocracoke Island microgrid is a partnership between North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and Tideland EMC that brings together distributed energy resources through control technologies to enhance reliability and resilience on the island. It also provides consumer-members with an opportunity to engage with their cooperative and contribute to improved grid resilience through smart thermostats and water heater controls in homes and business.

The first cooperative microgrid in the state, it is a critical community resource on the remote barrier island, which is isolated from central power generation sources and vulnerable to severe weather events.

Paul Flythe, manager of diesel generation for N.C. Electric Cooperatives, explained to the governor’s staff that prior to building this microgrid, the island was dependent on a single transmission line for electric service. With the addition and management of the microgrid, power can now be restored faster when connection to the main grid is interrupted.

The microgrid also serves as a resource that can be called on during times of peak demand to achieve cost savings. The microgrid components include a controller, solar panels, battery storage, internet-connected smart thermostats, water heater controls and a diesel generator.

One of four microgrids now in operation, the project supports North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives’ Brighter Future vision and commitment to providing reliable electricity while also advancing the pursuit of innovation and responsible sustainability goals.

“We’re grateful to the Governor’s Office for our continued partnership and the opportunity to share how cooperatives are coordinating microgrids and other distributed power resources to enhance reliability and resilience for our consumer-members and North Carolina’s communities,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.