Connecticut Plans Nation's First State-Wide Microgrid

Nine microgrid projects across the state of Connecticut have been awarded $18 million as part of the state’s innovative strategy to keep critical buildings up and running during electric grid outages.

The projects will be the foundation for the nation’s first state-wide microgrid.

They were selected from among 36 concepts submitted under a program created in July 2012 by Governor Dannel Malloy to address lingering grid power outages — the previous year, two storms left more than 1 million Connecticut businesses and homes without power for days.

That was before Superstorm Sandy hit in October 2012, further underscoring the regional grid’s vulnerability. 

The Microgrid Pilot Program will test the feasibility of using a distributed microgrid network during extreme weather events to power police, fire and emergency response teams; hospitals and healthcare facilities; state and town emergency response centers; along with grocery stores, and gas stations.

Microgrids play a major role in our efforts to modernize and harden our infrastructure to withstand severe weather,” says Governor Malloy. “These projects will help protect residents and vital public services even when the power goes out, and in doing so allow us to provide critical services during times of emergency. Over the next two years, I’ve recommended an additional $30 million in funding for the state’s microgrid program to strengthen more Connecticut communities.”

The program requires State Bond Commission authorization, anticipated this fall. It is managed by the state’s Department of Energy and Environment Protection in consultation with the state’s two major electric utilities.

The nine projects receiving funding are:

  • Bridgeport: $2.97 million for three 600 kilowatt (kW) natural gas microturbines to power the city hall, police station and senior center. (Bridgeport will also be home to one of the nation’s largest fuel cell deployments.) 
  • Fairfield: $1.16 million to deploy two natural gas-fired engines and 47 kilowatts (kW) of solar to power the police station, emergency operations center, cell tower, fire headquarters and public shelter.
  • Groton Naval Submarine Base: $3 million for a 5 megawatt (MW) cogeneration turbine and 1.5 MW diesel generator. (Since the base is a federal entity, funding comes from the State Department of Economic and Community Development)
  • Hartford: $2.27 million for four diesel generators with capacities up to 1.9 MW for the University of Hartford campus and St. Francis Hospital; $2.06 million for a 600 kW natural gas generator to power the Parkville Cluster school, senior center, library, supermarket and gas station.
  • Middletown: $694,000 for natural gas-power combined heat and power at the Wesleyan University campus and athletic center, which doubles as a public shelter. 
  • Storrs: $2.14 million for a 400 kW fuel cell and 6.6 kW solar photovoltaic array at the University of Connecticut Depot Campus.
  • Windham: $639,950 for a mix of natural gas, solar, diesel and energy storage technologies at two schools.
  • Woodbridge: $3 million for a 1.6 MW natural gas turbine
    and 400 kW fuel cell that will support the police station, fire station, Department of Public Works, town hall and high school.

In July, Standard Solar and Solar Grid Storage installed one of the first commercial-scale microgrids in the US. It’s in Maryland, supporting a solar array.

Discussing that project, Maryland’s Director of Energy Administration, Abigail Ross Hopper, notes: "Advancing our energy storage infrastructure builds greater confidence in Maryland’s grid resiliency. Grid storage technology also improves the delivery service of our first responders, armed services, telecommunications, waste water treatment plants, and emergency shelters."

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Comments on “Connecticut Plans Nation's First State-Wide Microgrid”

  1. Chris Lotspeich

    This report is incorrect in one key aspect (which was also initially reported incorrectly in The Hartford Courant, perhaps the source for this article). The funding is not for generation, as the wording suggests; it is instead for most microgrid components OTHER THAN generation. The money is for “interconnection facilities,” e.g., wires and cables, switchgear, busbar, controls, point of interconnection and the like. The microgrid project hosts pay for the generation assets.

    Reply
  2. Heather Clancy

    Thanks for the feedback. The story is based on the information provided by the Connecticut governor’s office. I will look into the clarification that you suggest.

    Reply

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