Pace Climate and Energy Center Hosts Conference on Comprehensive Smart Energy Innovations

“District energy systems” and “microgrids” seen as viable solutions for improved savings, sustainability and reliability.

WHITE PLAINS, NY, November 19, 2010 – “Business as usual will kill us by 2030,” was the message from Steven W. Pullins, president of Horizon Energy Group, in his keynote address at a conference on District Energy Systems and Microgrids held Friday at the Judicial Institute on the campus of Pace Law School.

As private and governmental leaders listened intently, Pullins explained how the current course is not “sustainable or affordable.”  If nothing changes, increased power disruptions—costing businesses tens to hundreds of billions of dollars each year—will result, not to mention rising energy costs.

But microgrids, or localized mini-grids that can generate their own power and disconnect and reconnect from the larger electricity grid at a moment’s notice, are a smart solution to the nation’s struggles with energy, said Pullins.

Among the many benefits of microgrids are anticipating and responding to system disturbances; providing quality power for the digital economy; optimizing asset utilization and operating efficiently; and allowing users to operate resiliently against attacks or natural disasters.

The conference consisted of four panels, on topics including “What is the Microgrid? Why it Matters,” “Legal, Financial and Other Considerations,” “Business Models, Can we Implement,” and “Vision for High Efficiency Municipal, School, University and Industrial Campuses.”

Speakers hailed from energy and engineering firms such as the Galvin Electricity Initiative, Pareto Energy, Viridity Energy, Nexterra, Burns & McDonnell, Gotham 360, and FVB Energy. Also featured were attorneys who specialize in the legal aspects of district energy, including Robert Loughney of Couch White, Catherine Hill of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, and Phyllis Kessler of Duane Morris.

In his keynote address, Pullins pointed out that microgrids are not widely used at present in the United States. The handful of current projects includes four military bases, the University of California, San Diego, and Pullins’ own company, Horizon Energy Group.

“There just aren’t a lot out there right now, but collectively, we’re learning,” he added.

Pullins anticipated that there will be 2,000 microgrids in the country by the year 2020.

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