Microgrids To Harden Connecticut’s Grid

US$5 million has been awarded for two microgrid projects in Connecticut
Published: Fri 17 Oct 2014

In a second round of funding from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Microgrid program, two microgrid projects in the cities of Bridgeport and Milford have been awarded US$5.1 million of funding.

The aim is to ensure that critical buildings and facilities remain powered in the event of a grid failure due to storms or other extreme weather events.

“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,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “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.”

New microgrid projects in Connecticut

The Bridgeport project was won by fuel cell power company FuelCell Inc. and the University of Bridgeport. In this project power will be provided to campus buildings at the University, including a dining hall, recreation centre, student centre, police station and two residence halls. The microgrid will be powered by a 1.4MW fuel cell. The University buildings will be available to serve city residents during a power outage or emergency.

  • This project is a companion to the Bridgeport project funded in a first round of grants, which will provide power to City hall, police station, and a senior centre.

The Milford project was submitted by Schneider Electric. In this project, power will be provided to the Parsons Government Centre, middle school, senior centre, senior housing and city hall. The middle school and senior centre will be available as shelters for residents during a power outage. The microgrid will be powered by two 148kW natural gas CHP units, 120kW of PV and a 100kW battery energy storage system.

Emergency preparedness with microgrids

The DEEP Microgrid program was established in the wake of Hurricane Irene in 2011 to standardize emergency preparedness for natural disasters and intense weather events. In the first round of funding in 2013, US$18 million was awarded to nine projects, of which one – at Wesleyan University, Middletown – is operational.

In this second funding round US$15 million was promised. The balance of that not awarded is to go towards a third round.

Connecticut is one of several states across the US northeast that are investing millions of dollars in developing microgrids to build resiliency into their grids in a bid to withstand the extreme weather events to which the region is prone. Another microgrid project was recently completed in the town of Norwich. [Engerati-Microgrid Makes Unstable Power Supply in Norwich A Thing of the Past]

Other states with microgrid investments include New York and Massachusetts, and New Hampshire is the currently making plans to do likewise. [Engerati-Six Municipal-Led Resilient Power Projects Receive US$7.4 Million and State Energy Strategy Recommends Grid Modernisation and Microgrids for New Hampshire]