NECEC and the BU Institute for Sustainability Publish New White Paper on Multi-User Microgrid Development

NECEC and the Boston University Institute for Sustainability, with support from E4TheFuture, today released a new white paper on multi-user microgrid development, “Multi-User Microgrids: Obstacles to Development and Recommendations for Advancement.”

While multi-user microgrids are emerging as a highly resilient approach to electricity service, few are actually in operation. The paper seeks to identify the barriers limiting multi-user microgrid development, as well as potential solutions to those barriers, focusing particularly on the northeast United States.

“We believe this is an important contribution to the limited literature pertaining to multi-user microgrids,” said Professor Kira Fabrizio of the Questrom School of Business at Boston University, the principal investigator for BU’s Institute of Sustainable Energy on this research.  “Our findings should be useful for interested parties seeking to tackle the challenges that have so far inhibited the development of multi-user microgrids – even when it’s clear that they can create significant societal value – so that they can become a more commonplace solution for energy customers to obtain clean and resilient power.”

Augmenting research of publicly available information by interviewing industry experts, the paper identifies the following seven key barriers to multi-user microgrid development and suggests beneficial actions and recommendations to overcome them:

  • Inability to monetize resilience (and other value streams)
  • Conflicts with pre-existing rights associated with electricity delivery
  • Preferential rights for utilities to cross public rights-of-way
  • Ambiguity about viable multi-user microgrid ownership models
  • Utility assertion of rights via legal action
  • Lack of suitable risk-mitigation structures
  • Insufficient leadership to coalesce solutions

“We hope this white paper will help expedite the deployment of multi-user microgrids as an important approach for delivering clean and resilient energy to customers,” said Peter Rothstein, President of NECEC. “The barriers explained and solutions identified in this paper will help developers and microgrid project partners overcome the limitations inhibiting the implementation of multi-user microgrids.”

This white paper was prepared by the Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy in collaboration with NECEC Institute and with funding from E4TheFuture. Research was conducted by Professor Kira Fabrizio, with assistance from Richard Stuebi, Josef Benzaoui, and Ryan Smith.


NECEC is the premier voice of businesses building a world-class clean energy hub in the Northeast, helping clean energy companies start, scale and succeed with our unique business, innovation and policy leadership. NECEC includes the Northeast Clean Energy Council (a nonprofit business member organization), and NECEC Institute (a nonprofit focused on industry research, innovation, policy development and communications initiatives). NECEC brings together business leaders and key stakeholders to engage in influential policy discussions and business initiatives while building connections that propel the clean energy industry forward.

About Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy

The Boston University Institute for Sustainable Energy is a university-wide center dedicated to facilitating the transition to a sustainable, climate-safe global energy system.  Through interdisciplinary research, policy analysis, and collaborative engagement, our mission is to ensure that the energy systems of the world provide abundant, sustainable, and universally accessible energy services to both emerging and advanced economies.

ISE is a new generation of “think and do tanks,” whose goal is to harness world-class research and education resources to contribute to important global economic, social, and technological challenges. This enormous challenge will require new technologies and energy processes, new forms of financing and financial institutions, new policy approaches and new forms of public governance, and new companies, industries, and markets. Our work spans all of the disciplines, departments, and colleges at BU and involves many partnerships with other researchers, policymakers, and industry.