The objective of this project is to demonstrate the use of automated demand response (ADR) technologies to manage building loads within a microgrid for the purposes of maintaining mission critical functions and microgrid stability when isolated from the main electrical grid and enabling smoother transitions between grid-connected and grid-independent modes.

Technology Description

Upon disconnecting from the main electrical grid, an installation’s microgrid controller will evaluate the balance between the supply and demand of power. If the controller anticipates a supply shortfall, it will issue a kilowatt shed request to a local open communication protocol (OpenADR) server over the base’s secure communications network in order to maintain safe operating voltages. The OpenADR server will signal the installation’s building management systems (BMS) to initiate load shedding control sequences according to the level of load shed that has been requested. Mission critical equipment will be able to opt out of any demand response. Upon reconnection to the grid, the microgrid controller will return the installation to normal operations via the same OpenADR client-server architecture.


The automated demand response framework will eliminate the need for expensive remotely controlled switchgear, reducing microgrid capital and maintenance costs. It will also enable substantial load shedding across an entire installation without buildings having to go dark. By using a standardized OpenADR operating only on the base’s network, the approach will be secure against cyber threats, require little customization to deploy, and will work with a wide range of microgrid controllers and BMS. Using BMS routines to shed and restore load in a controlled manner will reduce wear and tear on equipment caused by the abrupt power changes that characterize the transition between operating modes in microgrids today. Intelligent load management will avoid large power spikes from coincident startup loads, allowing engineers to reduce the capacity of a microgrid’s generation assets, backup storage, and distribution infrastructure, all of which will lower capital costs.

The approach to managing microgrid loads will allow the Department of Defense (DoD) to leapfrog to an agile, scalable, and secure technology platform for preserving mission critical installation functionality during adverse conditions. By implementing OpenADR to mediate communications between microgrid controllers and building BMS, the DoD will leverage a broad trend in the building control industry toward improved interoperability and increased adoption of intelligent flexible load management, resulting in reduced costs and streamlined deployment. If OpenADR were to achieve an authority to operate at some point in the future for utility ADR participation, it could potentially be used to manage installation loads during both grid-connected and islanded operating modalities with seamless toggling between the two.