Microgrid Money Flowing in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania

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Northeastern governors continue to show that all of their microgrid talk wasn’t just talk following last year’s Superstorm Sandy.

Connecticut plans to open up bidding in January for $15 million it is making available in its second round of microgrid funding.

The program is meant to keep power flowing to critical buildings, like police stations, as well as to commercial centers when big storms hit.

The state will consider bids from cities and towns, utilities, energy improvement districts and private entities. Bidders may propose a complete microgrid system or repurposed, existing distributed energy.

The money can be used only for the cost of design, engineering and interconnection infrastructure. (Those seeking money for the generation portion of a microgrid should contact the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, Genevieve.sherman@ctcleanenergy.com.)

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection plans to release program information in December and the request for proposals in January. Bids are due in June. Winners will be selected in September. Anyone who wants to comment on the schedule must do so by Dec. 3. Email Debra.Morrell@ct.gov.

Connecticut actually started its microgrid quest before Superstorm Sandy – reacting to earlier severe storms – and already has issued $18 million to nine microgrid projects, expected to begin operation over the next 18 months.

More details about Connecticut’s upcoming RFP are here.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has created a $20 million competition to create microgrids on Long Island in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The winner of each county contest will receive $10 million.

In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie allocated $25 million in October to 146 government agencies to develop microgrid and other projects that improve the state’s energy resilience. The money can be used for retrofitting existing distributed generation, including fuel cells or combined heat and power, to increase capacity. It also is available for engineering studies; buying diesel, solar or natural gas-powered generators; and purchasing dynamic inverters and storage for existing solar panels.

The New Jersey program targets critical facilities, and is part of an ongoing energy partnership between the state, Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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Energy Storage
Energy Storage in Smart Microgrids
All power systems also require the capability to balance, in real time, differences between load demand and generator output. This balancing capability—which keeps system frequency at the level where it’s designed to operate—is critical to ensure the stability and reliability of the overall power system, for both centralized power grids as well as microgrids. In a centralized grid, fossil-fuel-fired generating plants typically will ramp up or down to ensure demand and generation output remains in balance.
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Separately, New Jersey also is studying a first-of-its kind transportation microgrid through a $1 million federal grant.

And in Pennsylvania,  Philadephia’s Navy Yard has moved forward with its new microgrid, GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center. The center includes energy storage, a smart grid demonstration home, electric vehicle charging stations and an indoor-outdoor training facility.

The project recently brought on line a battery that uses a special control system to inject or draw energy from the grid based on a signal from a utility. Solar Grid Storage is managing the new system to help demonstrate the economic viability of energy storage systems. The battery will initially help maintain the frequency of AC power on the grid, but later may also be used to smooth out solar  energy and reduce peak demand energy costs.

The navy yard microgrid is a project of Penn State and the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the Department of Energy, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com and EnergyEfficiencyMarkets.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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