Milford expects $2.9 million for microgrid project
New microgrid projects in Milford and Bridgeport – which will help keep critical buildings and facilities in those two cities powered even when the grid goes down – have been awarded a total of $5.1 million through the second round of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Microgrid Program.
“Residents of Bridgeport and Milford will benefit from these microgrids because they will keep lights on and the power running at critical locations even when the lights go out elsewhere,” Governor Malloy said. “Microgrids are an essential part of our strategy to make certain we can better withstand the type of catastrophic storms we have experienced in recent years – and the extended loss of power that accompanies them.”
What is a microgrid?
“Microgrids are modern, small-scale versions of the centralized electricity system,” according to Galvinpower.org. “They achieve specific local goals, such as reliability, carbon emission reduction, diversification of energy sources, and cost reduction, established by the community being served. Like the bulk power grid, smart microgrids generate, distribute and regulate the flow of electricity to consumers, but do so locally.”
In Milford, a microgrid will be created to power the Parsons Government Center, Harborside Middle School, senior center, senior housing and city hall. The middle school and senior center will be available as shelters for residents during a power outage, officials said in a press statement.
The DEEP microgrid grant will provide about $2.9 million in funding for eligible design, engineering and interconnection infrastructure costs. The microgrid will be powered by two 148kW natural gas CHP units, 120kW of PV and a 100kW battery energy storage system.
At the University of Bridgeport, power will be provided to campus buildings including a dining hall, recreation center, student center, police station and two residence halls. The DEEP microgrid grant will provide almost $2.2 million in funding for eligible design, engineering and interconnection infrastructure costs.
The UB buildings will be available to serve city residents during a power outage or emergency. The on-campus facilities can provide shelter to about 2,700 residents and the dining hall can provide food service to residents as well as emergency responders.
This project is viewed as a companion to a Bridgeport microgrid project funded in a first round of grants, which will provide power largely for critical city services.
Created under Public Act 12-148, DEEP’s Microgrid Pilot Program is designed to increase the safety and quality of life to Connecticut residents during electric grid outages. Microgrids will provide electricity to critical facilities and town centers on a 24/7 daily basis and will include a system to isolate the microgrid so it can provide power even when there is a large-scale outage.
A first round of grants under the program in July 2013 awarded $18 million to nine microgrid projects in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham, and Woodbridge as part of the Governor’s Storm Legislation. One of those nine projects – at Wesleyan University, Middletown – is already operational. The remaining projects are in various stages of development.
The projects will provide power for government services and businesses that are critical during extreme weather events such as police, fire, and emergency response teams, shelters, dining facilities, state and town emergency response centers, grocery stores, and gas stations.
Funding for a second round of microgrid pilot projects was authorized by the General Assembly in 2013. Governor Malloy will request that funding for the new Bridgeport and Milford projects be approved by the state Bond Commission.
“We are working to modernize, upgrade, and strengthen the electric grid system but there are still going to be times when the forces of nature are just too strong and the power does go out,” Governor Malloy said. “These are the moments when microgrids will prove to be invaluable.”
Officials agree that Connecticut has experienced firsthand the devastating effects that major weather events can have on the electric grid. DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said, “Microgrids improve health and safety by allowing emergency services to continue to operate and giving residents a place to seek shelter and stay warm and dry.”
Milford Mayor Ben Blake said, “Over the past few years, Milford has been tested and tested again by storms of biblical proportion. Given our city’s history, we believe deeply in storm preparedness and a hardened infrastructure. Not only will this microgrid provide a new layer of fortification during storms, it will also create significant energy savings.”
Milford’s aldermen will be asked to vote on the microgrid project at the November Board of Aldermen’s meeting.