Connecticut invests $18m on microgrid to counter power outages

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An $18 million program to install a state-wide microgrid, powered by distributed gas-fired turbines, has recently been launched in the US coastal state of Connecticut, to keep the lights on in public buildings during grid outages in severe weather. The scheme comes after hurricane Sandy last year caused 5 deaths in the state, and $68 billion in damages nationwide.

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) awarded a total of $18 million in funding through a 'Microgrid Pilot Program' to nine projects in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham, and Woodbridge.

The buildings earmarked to receive back-up power are used by government services and emergency response teams such as police, fire, hospitals and health care facilities, state and town emergency response centres, grocery stores and gas stations.

One larger-scale project for a US Naval Submarine Base in Groton, based on 5MW cogeneration turbine with 1.5 MW diesel power, was funded by the US central government's State Department of Economic and Community Development. The project is valued at $3 million.


The other microgrids are being funded by DEEP. Connecticut's Governor Dan Malloy had passed a bill addressing public safety with the storms and severe weather with Public Act 12-148.

Microgrids in nine counties

The state's most populous city of Bridgeport, with 144,229 residents, is receiving about £3 million for three 600 kW natural gas micro-turbines for its City hall, police station and senior centre. The city recently broke ground on a large fuel cell which will be located in Bridgeport.

The University of Hartford campus and St. Francis Hospital will spend $2.27 million to add a 250 kW and a 150 kW diesel generator to two existing 1.9MW diesel generators. Hartford's Parkville Cluster school, senior centre, library, supermarket, gas station will be powered by a 600 kW natural gas turbine valued at $2.06 million.

In Fairfield, a police station, emergency operations centre, cell tower, fire headquarters, and public homeless shelter are receiving a 50 kW natural gas reciprocating engine, 250 kW natural gas reciprocating engine, and 47 kW solar PV, valued at $1 million.

Wesleyan University campus and athletic centre in Middletown will build a 2.4 MW and 676kW natural gas CHP reciprocating engine. University of Connecticut Depot Campus at Storrs will have a 400 kW fuel cell and 6.6 kW PV of solar generation.

Windham's two schools will have 130 kW natural gas, 250 kW solar, 200 kWh battery; two kW diesel turbines. Woodbridge's Police station, fire station, Department of Public Works, town hall will get a 1.6MW natural gas turbine and a 400kW fuel cell, worth $3 million.

Governor backs another $30m funding

Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy said, "Microgrids play a major role in our efforts to modernize and harden our infrastructure to withstand severe weather. 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.”