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Distributed Generation (DG)
for Resilience Planning Guide
Distributed Generation (DG)
for Resilience Planning Guide
Distributed Generation (DG)
for Resilience Planning Guide
Critical Infrastructure (CI)
Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Solar + Energy Storage
Applying CHP in CI
Case Studies
Critical Infrastructure (CI)
Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Solar + Energy Storage
Applying CHP in CI
Case Studies
Site Map
Table of Contents
Identify Opportunity for DG in Critical Infrastructure

In order to identify opportunities for DG in critical infrastructure, it is important to first determine the most important CI sectors across the state, local jurisdiction, or utility territory, and then identify which are most conducive to different DG technologies based on sector characteristics. Ultimately, selected facilities within these defined CI sectors can be analyzed and ranked based on prioritization and the potential for installing CHP, solar + storage, or implementing a microgrid.

The objective of this section is to quickly assess a CI portfolio through a series of filters that is designed to yield high priority candidate facilities for further assessment. Users may choose to utilize only a portion of this step-by-step guide, or start from Step 1 and move all the way through to assess the potential for different DG technologies at host CI facilities. For example, states may find it useful to rank the most important CI sectors in their state (Step 1) and assess which of these sectors are the most conducive to different DG technologies (Step 2), and then move on to assessing what types of programs or policies could enable DG or CHP in these CI sectors. Cities and utilities may find it useful to move through all of the detailed steps to screen specific CI sites for individual DG technologies, such as CHP feasibility and cost-effectiveness.

Step 1: Identify and Rank Critical Infrastructure

The first step is to identify and rank the key CI sectors in the targeted region. This typically involves working with various stakeholder groups to determine a set of metrics to prioritize critical infrastructure sectors, with a vulnerability or risk assessment. Critical facilities can include both public and private sector buildings, which is often a consideration in the approach as well. Although approaches and metrics for each jurisdiction will differ depending on resiliency goals, the critical infrastructure sectors outlined by DHS offer a good starting point and provide information on which services are most important to maintain during an extended outage event. Users can use DHS sectors as starting point, and apply resiliency goals and criteria to each sector to help rank top CI sectors. The following table is an example of how NYSERDA approached evaluating the most critical sub-sectors to maintain during an emergency.

Consequence Category Measurement Criteria
1. Human Impact Measured in terms of the fatalities or injuries that could result if the critical asset is degraded or incapacitated by the worst reasonable case power outage
2. Economic Impact Measured in terms of the direct and indirect effects on the economy (e.g., cost to rebuild asset, cost to respond to and recover from disaster, downstream costs resulting from disruption of product or service, long-term costs due to environmental damage) that could result if the critical asset is degraded or incapacitated by the worst reasonable case power outage
3. Impact on Public Confidence or Psychological Consequences Measured in terms of the effect on public morale and confidence in national economic and political institutions that could result if the critical asset is degraded or incapacitated by the worst reasonable case power outage
4. Impact on Government Continuity Measured in terms of the reduction in the ability of state and local governments to deliver minimum essential public services, ensure public health and safety, and carry out national security-related missions if the critical asset is degraded or incapacitated by the worst reasonable case power outage

The following list is an example of how a community might rank a list of top CI sectors, as a result from applying resiliency goals and criteria to the DHS CI sectors. (see Table 1 below).

Table 1: Example of Critical Infrastructure Sector Ranking

Examples of processes individual states have used to identify key CI sectors are shown below:

Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIMEA)
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIMEA) used the framework developed by DHS to identify key critical infrastructure sectors in their Rhode Island Critical Infrastructure Program Plan (RCIPP). RIMEA prioritized six lifeline sectors, created Sector-Specific Plans (SSPs) to identify interdependencies between sectors, and is currently creating a database of critical facilities throughout the state.
Minnesota Department of Public Safety
Minnesota has developed a Critical Infrastructure Protection Program through the Minnesota Department of Public Safety in order to protect, strengthen, and maintain critical infrastructure assets. The Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) division has prioritized five lifeline sectors in order to increase the safety and resiliency of assets within these sectors.
Step 2: Identify Critical Infrastructure Sub-Sectors Conducive to CHP, Solar + Storage, and Microgrids

The second step is to take the CI sector list in Step 1 and to identify the specific CI sub-sectors in that list that have the technical characteristics (e.g., potential electric and thermal loads) to support CHP, solar + storage, and/or microgrids, and eliminate other sectors/sub-sectors that do not. While most facilities currently rely on diesel generators for backup power in the event of a grid outage, there have been cases where diesel generators have not performed as expected for a variety of reasons. Therefor, this section will focus on technologies that can operate continuously and/or provide different types of benefits to CI facilities, such as CHP. Diesel generators can still provide the required backup power if engineered and configured correctly, but are not analyzed in this context.

Sub-Sectors Conducive to CHP

The list of CI sub-sectors that generally have electric and thermal loads and other technical site characteristics conducive to CHP are listed in Table 2 below.

Table 2. Critical Infrastructure Sub-Sectors Conducive to CHP
CI Sector Sub-sector Conducive to CHP
Transportation Airports
Information Technology Data Centers
Government Facilities College/Universities
Military Bases
Emergency Services Police Stations
Fire Stations
Water and Wastewater Systems Waste Water Treatment Plants
Food and Agriculture Food Processing
Food Distribution Centers
Commercial Facilities Lodging
Multi-Family Buildings
Healthcare and Public Health Hospitals
Nursing Homes
Healthcare and Public Health Chemicals / Pharmaceuticals
Food Processing

Once the list of CI sub-sectors conducive to CHP has been determined, users can narrow it down further by identifying CHP opportunities at individual CI facilities in Step 3.
Step 3: Individual Site Assessment

The third step is to perform an individual site assessment for potential CI sites based on the conducive sub-sectors identified in Steps 1 & 2 above. The following tools can be used to screen individual CI sites for their potential to deploy CHP, solar + storage, and/or a microgrid for increasing energy resilience.

Users may choose to perform individual site screening assessments using the tools detailed (below), or learn more about individual DG technologies and the potential resilience benefits they may provide to individual CI sites (right). Learn more about CHP for Resilience
Learn more about Solar + Storage for Resilience
Learn more about Microgrids for Resilience

Individual Site Assessment Tools

CHP Site Screening Tool The CHP Site Screening Tool is an excel-based tool that can provide an individual site screening assessment for CHP based on a variety of user inputs and pre-determined metrics. CHP Site Screening Tool
Solar + Storage Screening Tool NREL's REopt model is used to optimize energy systems for buildings, campuses, communities, and microgrids. REopt Tool
Microgrid Modeling Tools The following microgrid modeling tools provide a variety of options for users looking to assess and optimize potential microgrid resources and configurations HOMER Energy

Contact your CHP TAP with sites identified for further analysis. If your facility received a payback of under 10 years and qualified as having either high (green) or medium (yellow) CHP potential, you should contact your CHP TAP. CHP TAPs can provide a more in-depth analysis and additional services, such as a qualification screening or feasibility analysis for individual sites. CHP TAPs can also provide additional resources for individual project implementation.


Now that you’ve defined which critical facilities are the highest priority, there are several ways you can take action to ensure state policies and programs support CHP deployment at these sites. By reviewing statutes and/or regulations already in place, state and local policymakers can ensure that policies are consistent with objectives to enhance the resiliency of critical infrastructure with CHP. States may also consider designing new programs targeting critical infrastructure applications. In this step, we provide policymakers and utility regulators with best practice policy recommendations to assist them in aligning key state policies to support CHP.


Standardized interconnection rules typically address the technical requirements and the application process for DG systems, including CHP, to connect to the electric grid. Most CHP systems are sized to provide a portion of the site’s electrical needs, and the site continues to remain connected to the utility grid system for supplemental, standby, and backup power services, and, in select cases, for selling excess power.

A key element to the market success of CHP is the ability to safely, reliably, and economically interconnect with the existing utility grid system. Uncertainty in the cost, timing, and technical requirements of the grid interconnection process can be a barrier to increased deployment of CHP. While developing state standards or revising existing standards, the following elements have been used successfully by states across the country:

Interconnection Resources

Standby Rates

Standby rates are charges typically paid by commercial and industrial customers that operate onsite generation systems, but remain connected to the grid in order to access services from an electric utility such as supplemental, standby, and backup power. Without appropriately designed rate structures for these services, the financial viability of a CHP project can be significantly reduced.

The following features can be incorporated into a standby rate regime consistent with standard ratemaking principles, avoiding cost shifting from CHP customers to other customers, providing appropriate incentives to operate CHP facilities in a manner most efficient for the utility system as a whole, and aligning the economics for the CHP facility with the cost to serve that customer:

Standby Rates Resources

Clean Energy Portfolio Standards

Clean energy portfolio standards, including energy efficiency resource standards and renewable energy portfolio standards, can be used by states to successfully increase the use of clean energy. A number of states have explicitly included CHP as an eligible resource within a portfolio standard, including renewable portfolio standards (RPS), energy efficiency resource standards (EERS), and alternative portfolio standards.

State regulators should focus on the following three implementation approaches when implementing CHP as a resource within a clean energy portfolio standard:

Clean Energy Portfolio Standard Resources

State Efficiency and Clean Energy Programs

States have used a number of policy instruments to provide financial support for distributed generation and CHP deployment. Policy and program options can include tax credits, bonds, loans or loan guarantees, project grants, and property assessed clean energy (PACE) programs. State efficiency and clean energy programs that are designed with broad applicability are most likely to encourage CHP and policymakers should consider developing eligibility criteria that can apply to a range of system sizes, allow all fuel types, and are not restricted to a single sector. The following describes each policy option and offers basic state examples.

State Efficiency and Clean Energy Programs Resources

Utility Incentive Programs

States can encourage utilities to develop and implement CHP-specific incentive programs within their portfolio of energy efficiency programs. Many utilities consider CHP as an available efficiency measure in their “custom” programs for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. However, this approach may not be sufficient to significantly encourage the adoption of CHP. CHP is typically more capital-intensive than other C&I efficiency measures and involves more complex procedures like environmental permitting, interconnection applications, feasibility assessments and other procedures that simpler measures do not require. Expertise in navigating this complex process is key to CHP adoption, which is why some states have encourage their utilities to develop standalone CHP programs that can provide this focused expertise.

There are a number of different CHP program incentives structures, eligibility requirements, and design parameters, but utilities with specific CHP programs in their energy efficiency portfolio share several common incentive structures. Utilities typically offer two major types of incentives for CHP programs; capacity incentives and production incentives.

More than 20 utilities currently administer CHP incentive programs, including:

Utility Incentive Program Resources

Air Permitting

To ensure CHP systems are in compliance with air quality standards, a facility, in consultation with the state or local permitting agency, reviews air permitting requirements and must obtain a permit before the system is installed and operated. The process for obtaining air permits can be time-consuming and resource-intensive, so several states have introduced procedures to simplify and speed up the permitting process for certain types of CHP units. Another tool for encouraging CHP deployment is the development of output-based emissions regulations, which recognize the efficiency and environmental benefits of CHP when regulating their emissions. States should consider the following options for air permitting policy options that can support CHP:

Air Permitting Resources

Local project Permitting and Codes

When installing a CHP system, facilities are required to obtain permits from local authorities to ensure it is constructed and operated in compliance with local and state regulations. The number of permits and approvals will vary depending on project characteristics such as the size and complexity of a project, the geographic location, the extent of other infrastructure modifications (e.g., gas pipeline, distribution), and the potential environmental impacts of construction and operations. Coordination with local agencies, such as the city or county planning agency, fire department/authority, building department, environmental health department, and others is needed. However, many local agencies have limited to no experience with CHP projects, which can create delays or difficulties in the CHP project development process. Policy makers can help streamline CHP installations by including education about CHP during permitting codes and inspector training.

Local project Permitting and Codes Resources