Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined state and local officials at Wesleyan University in Middletown to help power up the first microgrid project to come online under the inaugural round of Connecticut's statewide microgrid pilot program. During the ceremony, the Governor also announced that proposals for a second round of projects under the program are now being accepted.
"The Wesleyan microgrid project is an example of how we will help minimize hardships to our residents and businesses during times when severe storms take out power from the electric grid," Governor Malloy said. "This is the first of nine projects coming online under the initial round of our first-in-the-nation statewide microgrid program, and there will be more to come as we are now accepting proposals for a second ground of grants."
Microgrids provide electricity to critical facilities and town centers on a 24/7 basis. They include a system of "trips" and "transfers" to isolate the microgrid and provide power within its network even when there is a large-scale outage, such as the ones the state saw during Tropical Storm Irene and the October Nor'easter.
The microgrid program was created as part of the Governor's storm legislation in 2012, which included a number of initiatives to enhance and augment the ability of the state, municipalities and utility companies to better prepare for and respond to natural disasters and intense weather situations.
Last July, Governor Malloy announced that nine projects in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham, and Woodbridge were awarded a total of $18 million under the first round grants of the microgrid program, which is administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The remaining projects are anticipated to come online over the course of the next 18 months.
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, hospitals and health care facilities, state and town emergency response centers, grocery stores, and gas stations.
"Our statewide program is a national model and others are looking to Connecticut's program as an example of how to increase resiliency and protect residents, commerce, and vital services even when the power goes out," Governor Malloy said. "Make no mistake about it, even with our best efforts to harden the grid, there are going to be times when the power goes out and microgrids can help us through those days."
Wesleyan's microgrid will provide an emergency shelter at the Freeman Athletic Center to residents of Middletown in the event of a large-scale power outage. The Athletic Center will be a warm place for residents to gather and provide basic amenities, such as charging cell phones or having a meal. The location also serves as a designated FEMA distribution center for first responders in the event of an emergency situation, and first responders will be able to use Wesleyan University facilities to serve the Middletown community.
"We will continue to work closely with all communities and institutions looking to develop microgrids," DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said. "These projects are an essential component of Governor Malloy's Comprehensive Energy Strategy and our efforts to ensure reliable electric service for our residents and our businesses."
The second round of grants for additional microgrid projects will be funded with $15 million authorizes as part of the FY14-FY15 biennial budget. DEEP has now released a Request for Proposals for the new projects. They are expected to be awarded in the fall.