Milford, Woodbridge projects to strengthen grid get funds
The state has approved $30 million in funding for four projects to strengthen electric grid against damaging storms.
The projects, including in Milford and Woodbridge, are in the design or construction phase. The others are in Bridgeport and Hartford and all are expected to be operational by 2017 or in 2018.
The state Bond Commission recently approved the funding for the expansion of the microgrid program.
Microgrids are a smaller versions of the larger electric distribution network, complete with their own source of power generation. They include a system that allows the buildings connected to the microgrid to continue to receive power even when the larger electric distribution system is experiencing an outage.
“This funding will mean further progress in our efforts to minimize hardships to our residents and businesses during times when the electric power grid goes down as the result of severe storms,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement.
Connecticut began its microgrid program in 2012 after several major storms that left tens of thousands of homes and businesses without power for days. Since then, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has awarded funding for 10 microgrids across the state in two previous rounds of funding.
Three of the projects have been completed and are considered operational, according to DEEP officials. These microgrids are at Wesleyan University in Middletown, at the University of Hartford and one with the town of Fairfield. Two more microgrid projects — at the University of Bridgeport and in Windham — have been built, but are awaiting testing and commissioning before they are considered operational. Joel Gordes, an energy consultant in West Hartford, said the state needs to sustain its microgrid program in order to assure the security of its residents and businesses.
“The denial of service attacks you saw with some websites are something to which the energy community is not immune.” Gordes said. “Any way that you can decentralize the grid will help.”
The state needs to simplify the process communities use to obtain the microgrid funding, he said.
“The way it is now, they look for a rather detailed and complicated proposal from the applicants,” Gordes said. “If it’s not detailed enough, it’s not going to get approved. That makes it a costly matter to get somebody to put a proposal together for you.”
One improvement the state has made in the application process, Gordes said, is establishing a rolling application process for microgrid proposals, which will allow for faster review and construction of new projects. Prior to this change, applications for microgrid funding were only accepted during a specific time period.
Call Luther Turmelle at 203-680-9388.