MSL Organizes CIVIC Challenge Team

MSL has convened and is co-leading a team to respond to the National Science Foundation’s CIVIC Innovation Challenge. In partnership with the University of New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque, and with the participation of PNM Resources and community stakeholders, the CIVIC team is proposing an innovative approach to increasing the energy resiliency of vulnerable communities.

As stated by NSF, “The Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC) is a research and action competition in the Smart and Connected Communities (S&CC) domain designed to build a more cohesive research-to-innovation pipeline and foster a collaborative spirit…. CIVIC introduces several unique features… asking communities to identify civic priorities ripe for innovation and then to partner with researchers to address those priorities….”

The MSL team’s proposal, “Community-Driven Energy Resilience via Grid-Integrated Rapid-Response Mobile-Microgrids,” seeks to create an energy resilience platform for the underrepresented and vulnerable communities in the City of Albuquerque (CABQ), New Mexico. CABQ is keenly looking for community-led programs to provide necessary services to the most vulnerable citizens in the event of a disaster. If selected, the team will work with community members, civic organizations, and city departments to identify those essential goods and services CABQ must be able to provide to the most vulnerable populations in the case of an emergency and how delivery will be impacted by a loss of electrical energy due to disaster conditions, supported by the UNM social science research team.

The UNM technology research team will then create a durable rapid response system and protocol to ensure that the City is able to provide these resources to its citizens in the event of a natural disaster, based on the concept of Grid-integrated Rapid-response Mobile-microgrids (GRMs). A GRM is defined as a set of portable generation resources that can be integrated into the distribution system of communities that are in urgent need of power. The unique feature of GRMs is their plug and play capability that facilitates fast and smooth integration into a community power grid. Their main advantages are their reduced regulatory and technical challenges compared to stationary microgrids using distributed energy resources, and that they can be quickly deployed to a precise location based on highest priority needs.

UNM’s Dr. Ali Bidram will serve as Principle Investigator, and MSL’s David Breecker as a Co-PI. NSF anticipates approximately 12 awards for Stage 1 planning grants on the resilient infrastructure track, and then approximately 4 Stage 2 awards for pilot project implementation.