Schneider Electric Moves Forward with Microgrid Projects in Connecticut, Maryland, California and Wisconsin

Jan. 25, 2018
Schneider Electric has struck a $4.5 million deal with Milford, Connecticut to design and build a microgrid project for five critical facilities. The microgrid is one of several that Schneider issued a progress report on this week.

Schneider Electric has struck a $4.5 million deal with Milford, Connecticut to design and build a microgrid project for five critical facilities.

The Connecticut microgrid is one of several that Schneider issued a progress report on this week.

Milford is building the microgrid to serve a middle school, the senior center, River Park Elderly Apartments, the Parsons Government Center, and City Hall. The middle school, Parsons, and the senior center will act as shelters during power outages.

In addition to powering the facilities during an outage, the microgrid is expected to improve energy efficiency and cut costs for the city via its use of a 400-kW combined heat and power (CHP) plant and 100-kW battery.

Milford intends to make the most of the microgrid’s economics via the state’s virtual net metering program for government and agricultural facilities. When the microgrid generates more power than it needs, the surplus will be “virtually” assigned to other buildings that have no physical connection to the system. From a practical standpoint, this means the city can apply the monthly credits to reduce the cost of electricity at buildings outside of the microgrid’s footprint.

The grid-connected microgrid also will provide revenue-producing services for the central grid. For example, the microgrid can discharge the battery during periods when demand for electricity is high on the grid.

Costs for the project are partially offset by a community microgrid grant program administered by the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). The $2.9 million grant will fund design, engineering, and connecting the buildings with underground cables. The city will cover costs for a generator that will supply heat and power, in addition to the battery energy storage system, while Schneider Electric will offer its microgrid design expertise and electrical equipment.

The microgrid is being designed to incorporate solar panels at a later date.

Milford will use a tax-exempt lease purchase to finance the microgrid’s costs. Also called a municipal lease, the approach allows the city to pay for energy upgrades by using money set aside for future utility bills. The idea is to draw upon the future savings the city will accrue after the microgrid is installed.

Mark Feasel, vice president, utility segment, smart grid & microgrid, Schneider Electric, said that the microgrid will offer Milford residents peace of mind.

“More and more, we’re seeing the negative impacts of 500-year storms on entire regions. The unprecedented nature of these storms is causing municipalities to come to grips with the need to offer resilient power and a shelter, and microgrids that operate independently in the event of a grid outage are critical to reduce those impacts,” he said.

Schneider also announced progress on several other microgrid projects it is working on.

  • The Montgomery County, Maryland microgrid project is on track to be complete in the third quarter of this year.
  • In California, site and performance testing is complete at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar San Diego, and its energy operations center is scheduled to be finished in the second quarter of 2018. The military plans to unveil the project in October.
  • In Wisconsin, the Gordon Bubolz Nature Preserve, designed to be one of the most advanced microgrids yet built, is scheduled to come online in the first quarter of 2018.

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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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