This Is What Microgrids for Resilience in Emergencies Look Like

A new group of microgrids has been proposed to help support Connecticut’s critical facilities in the event of an emergency.

The proposals are part of the latest round of applications that were due Jan. 1 for funding under the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) microgrid program.

High schools, elementary schools, police and fire stations, elderly care centers — the many essential buildings of any town are now the focus of a growing movement to provide resilient power systems in emergency situations. A new fleet of microgrids will bring together various energy systems and control technologies to disconnect critical buildings from the main grid and provide secure power in the event of a major system outage.

The new applications in Connecticut are part of the fourth round of funding for DEEP’s microgrid program. The first microgrid under the program was placed into service in 2014 at Wesleyan University. According to Wesleyan, the microgrid includes solar and natural gas generation, and saves the university about $300,000 annually.

There now are four microgrids operating under the funding program, and five more approved, according to DEEP documents.

One proposal submitted in the new round requests $2.5 million for a microgrid in Westbrook, Conn., at the middle school and high school, which have recently been designated as emergency/evacuation shelter and support areas. USA Microgrids, an OATI company, worked with the Town of Westbrook on the proposal. According to the application, Westbrook is located on the Atlantic coast, and is at risk of prolonged power outages from large storms. Currently, the backup diesel generation relies on refueling in prolonged outages. If refueling is not possible, the application said, the shelters would be without power.

The proposed microgrid is designed with natural gas turbines, up to 287 kW of solar PV, a 200-kW/454-kWh lithium-ion battery, and software controls to provide resilient power.

USA Microgrid said that the town selected the company as part of a competitive bid process.

“We look forward to working with the Town of Westbrook as a partner,” David Heim, Chief Strategy Officer of USA Microgrids, said in a Jan. 4 statement. “This collaborative effort showcases how solidly a microgrid can be put together to increase reliability and provide environmental and economic benefits for the state of Connecticut.”

Another proposal, submitted by solar installer EcoSolar and storage systems and software service provider Tumalow Inc., requests $4 million for a microgrid in Coventry, Conn. According to the application, the project would require the construction of an islanding circuit loop for nine critical facilities in the town, including, for example, schools, a communication tower and a senior care center.

The proposed microgrid has been designed with natural gas turbines, 654 kW of solar PV, a 500-kW/1,500-kWh lithium-ion battery, and Tumalow’s energy management system.

Under the DEEP program, applicants that win funding must place projects into service within 36 months after executing the award contract.

Lead image credit: Kurt Bauschardt | Pixabay

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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