Oh the Irony…Storm Cancels Meeting about How Microgrids Keep the Lights on in Storms

Feb. 10, 2015
Could it be more ironic? A group in New Jersey, promoting microgrids to ward off outages during storms, had to cancel its January 27 public information meeting. Because of a storm.

Credit: Andrei!

Could it be more ironic? A group in New Jersey, promoting microgrids to ward off outages during storms, had to cancel its January 27 public information meeting. Because of a storm.

The good news is that MIDJersey Chamber and the MIDJersey Center for Economic Development plan to reschedule the meeting.

Update! The meeting has been rescheduled to 6 p.m., April 7 at the Windsor Athletic Club, 99 Clarksville Road, West Windsor Township. To register go here…and hope for no April snowstorms.

Several experts will share their knowledge on a panel moderated by Robert D. Prunetti of the MIDJersey Chamber of Commerce. The panel will include Darren Hammell, Princeton Power Systems; Andrew Powers, PSE&G; Ted Borer, Princeton University; and Thomas Walker, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

In recent weeks, swaths of New Jersey and the Northeast lost power because of snow.

Unfortunately, power outages aren’t an unusual occurrence in New Jersey — or the Northeast, or even nationwide for that matter.

Just over two years ago SuperStorm Sandy crippled the Northeast’s electric delivery system. More recently, in December, Detroit lost power for eight hours because of its antiquated power system.

“North America’s infrastructure is aging and frail. So even small disturbances to the system can lead to power failure,” said Darren Hammell, co-Founder and chief strategy officer of New Jersey-based Princeton Power Systems, which designs and manufactures state-of-the-art power electronics used in advanced battery operations and alternative energy.

Solar power alone will not solve this problem; in fact none of New Jersey’s 1 GW of solar helped during Superstorm Sandy. Most solar systems are connected to the central grid. So when it fails, the solar panels stop generating electricity for the home or business.

Is there a way to resolve this problem?

Yes, energy storage, an element of many microgrids, is the key to keeping the lights on, as Princeton Power Systems says it is able to demonstrates when the power fails in its own community.  A battery bank at the company’s headquarters in Lawrenceville provides backup power to the company’s main office and servers for eight hours during utility electricity failures.

The system represents a smaller version of the kind of technology that Princeton Power Systems has installed at many other sites in North America, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.

Now Princeton Power Systems is working to bring a similar system — at no cost — to the West Windsor Municipal Complex in Mercer County, New Jersey.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our own community to reap the benefits of the kind of state-of-the-art solar plus battery storage that we’ve brought to so many other parts of the world,” Hammell said.

Stay tuned. We’ll post the new meeting date…and hope it doesn’t snow.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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