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As renewable and distributed energy technologies create expanded, more economical options at the edge of the conventional electric grid, local “micro-grids” are gaining attention as a way to enhance energy security in emergencies and help key buildings in a town to manage their demand for electricity in the meantime. A micro-grid is a production and distribution system for power that is capable of being detached from the main grid (or “islanded”) so that it can continue to produce power from resilient sources when the grid as a whole is shut down. Micro-grids thus combine energy supply, and management of demand, in an innovative, exciting way.

In fact, they are so innovative that Connecticut is the first state to have a financing program for them. The program was announced in 2012, as were the first eight municipal partners to receive funding to develop micro-grids: Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham, and Woodbridge.

On March 6, 2014, Wesleyan University in Middletown became the first of the CT microgrid projects to come online.  Wesleyan’s 676 kW natural gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) reciprocating engines were able to be connected to the campus electrical grid thanks to the program.  They will constantly supply power to the campus, but have the ability to go into island mode when necessary so that critical facilities will remain with electricity during power failures.

A second round of funding followed in 2015, supporting two major projects: the Milford’s City Hall, middle school, senior center and several housing complexes; and the University of Bridgeport’s campus center, police station and shelter areas.

While micro-grid engineering is a fast-moving technical field, the dimensions of land use planning and public participation are equally important to a community to establish micro-grids that genuinely anchor and support local emergency response. In the case of Windham, the micro-grid vision grew out of the Town Council’s discussion of energy security after Hurricane Irene, and plans were underway when Superstorm Sandy hit. Windham had been approached by a group of partner towns to apply for state micro-grid funding, and did so. The project revolves around the population center of Willimantic, and the critical role of schools as community hubs in emergencies. The three-phased initiative begins in a selected school, either the Middle School or High School, then expands to the nearby campus of Eastern Connecticut State University and finally to Main Street. It is ambitiously conceived to provide 24/7 power for up to four weeks if needed, using up to 250 KW solar photovoltaics combined with natural gas generators and batteries, with the possible addition of combined heat and power systems. An engineering study for this initiative is now underway. Windham’s micro-grid initiative will begin building relationships with the school partners by developing a curriculum on energy issues for K-12 science, engineering and math classes.

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Community Updates

WOODSTOCK’S NEW 1MW SOLAR ARRAY
PROJECTED TO SAVE OVER 2.4 MILLION OVER THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS

Woodstock is currently in the process of installing their 1MW solar array.  The array will be a brownfield installation covering, what once was, their former landfill.  Concrete ballasts will weigh down the panel's framework to prevent any breach of the landfill's membrane... See Press Release

HES COPAY PRICE INCREASE

In the recent approval of the 2016-18 Conservation and Load Management (CL&M) Plan by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), there is good news and not-so-good news... Read More

 

 

Calendar Highlights

FALL GATHERING

HIGHLIGHTS OF CT’s FALL GATHERING of clean energy task forces can be found here in our Knowledge Center’s Program Archives pages. Diane Duva (the Director of Energy Demand at DEEP’s Bureau of Energy and Technology Policy is pictured here) facilitating the shaping of our state’s energy future.

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Clean Energy Communities Listening Session Letter of Thanks and Follow-up

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