A southwestern New York city, once known as an industrial and manufacturing hub, is embracing the energy future with the help of a $17.37 million federal grant to build a downtown microgrid.
The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities announced it received the money through the U.S. Department of Energy Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships (GRIPs) program. DOE announced last week that the GRIPS funding, coming via the 2021 Infrastructure Act, would total about $3.5 billion in this latest release and was being allocated to hundreds of microgrid, renewable energy and grid resiliency projects across 44 states.
Jamestown is located in southern Chautauqua County, New York. The city of nearly 30,000 residents was known in the last century for making products such as the crescent wrench, the automatic lever voting machine and also as the “Furniture Capital of the World.”
The GRIPS funding will aid the Board of Public Utilities in deploying a microgrid in downtown Jamestown. The distributed energy site also will include electric vehicle charging, battery storage and a replace of underground cabling, according to the report.
The utility board will match the project funding with $5.79 million of its own.
“A microgrid in downtown Jamestown would allow for continued electrical service in a widespread electrical outage to vital public services,” reads the announcement by the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities. “Such services would include fire, police, hospital, utilities, designated emergency shelters, schools and other businesses. The microgrid would increase our utility’s reliability and resiliency, a great benefit to our customers.”
The microgrid will utilize the city utility’s existing gas-fired turbine, a district heating system and adding a battery storage system for “black start” capability. Black start is a process of restoring power to a part of the electric grid without connecting to the external electric transmission or distribution system.
“Not only will the microgrid support our city and enable life-saving energy to be accessed during the times it’s needed most, but it will be developed entirely by our local workforce,” Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said in the city press release. “Our people are our greatest asset and with the BPU’s commitment to hire 100% unionized labor, every dollar from this grant will remain within this community. We thank the Department of Energy, the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer for their continued belief and tireless advocacy for this investment in Jamestown.”
The microgrid will serve operations during a prolonged outage to ensure power for mission critical entities such as the Jamestown police and fire departments, Municipal Public Works, Electric and Water Resources Division, Alstar EMS Ambulance Service, UPMC Chautauqua Hospital, the Urgent Care Medical Facility and several large community buildings which can serve as shelters, the board noted.
The Jamestown Board of Public Utilities estimated that the award negotiation process may take several months to complete before microgrid design and construction work begins. The project is on a five-year timeline, according to the release.
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