Far northern Wisconsin has faced several extreme floods in the last decade that have caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure while also cutting off power for some living in the region. Now, Xcel Energy and Bayfield County are partnering to build the first microgrid through a utility program designed to promote resiliency and keep the lights on.

The microgrid will allow the county’s jail and courthouse to operate independently of the main power grid, which would draw power from a mix of solar, battery storage and a backup generator.

Microgrids supply a network of customers with energy that’s separate from a utility’s service, which can be switched on or off as needed. They provide more resilience and reliability for customers when outages occur on the main grid, and they can also minimize power disruptions by reducing demand on a utility’s system.

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