Massachusetts Awards $18.4M for Microgrids and Other Energy Resiliency Projects

Dec. 29, 2014
Massachusetts today awarded $18.4 million for microgrids and other energy resiliency projects to keep the lights on when the grid is down. The money will go to cities and towns. Here’s a list of the winners.

Coastal Cape Cod towns were among grant winners. Credit: PapaDunes

Massachusetts today awarded $18.4 million for microgrids and other energy resiliency projects to keep the lights on when the grid is down.

The funds went to cities and towns, and  include several microgrids, combined heat and power (CHP) systems, battery storage and $500,000 for solar PV plus storage.

“These grants will assist municipalities across the Commonwealth in using innovative clean energy technologies to prevent disruption to critical facilities and services during times of emergency,” said Mark Sylvia, undersecretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs.

This is the second round of energy resiliency grants issued by Massachusetts, as part of a $40 million program begun by outgoing Governor Deval Patrick. The first round of grants totaled $7.4 million.

Today’s grant winners are:

  • Barnstable – $406,000 – The Barnstable Intermediate School serves as a primary emergency shelter for the town. This project is for the procurement and construction of the resiliency equipment associated with a 60-kW combined heat and power (CHP) system to support the school with both electric and thermal power. With the resiliency equipment, namely the islanding and black start features of the selected system, this unit will be able to operate in parallel with the utility grid or independently during a broad scale utility outage. This functionality will ensure that the shelter will be able to continue to provide critical services through a long-term outage event.
  • Boston – $3,680,000 – The City of Boston is proposing to partner with Boston Medical Center to install a new 2-MW CHP system that is capable of black start and island operation at that facility. The system will be configured to, not only support the hospital, but to provide extended duration backup electric power in the event of a normal power outage to the regional emergency communications infrastructure located on the roof of the high rise housing building located at 35 Northampton St (across the street from the plant). Grant funding is requested for engineering, controls, electrical switchgear and wiring required for CHP machine black start and interconnection of city emergency communications infrastructure system.
  • Cambridge – $851,868 – Cambridge’s proposed project will involve installing battery storage to complement a planned 170-kW solar PV system and other equipment to enable the system to island during an outage event. The project would allow the drinking water treatment system to operate during brief interruptions of the power supply and let the Water and Electrical Department offices, water laboratory, and emergency operations center to operate during longer outages.

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  • Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) – $1,479,193 – The Dennis Yarmouth Regional High School is designated as a Regional Shelter by the Barnstable County Emergency Planning Committee (BCEPC). It is one of six regional shelters open to all residents and visitors to Barnstable County during an emergency. It also serves as a food preparation and distribution center for the remaining shelters due to its size and capacity. This project is for the addition of 512-kW of battery back-up, energy management and islanding capability to its nearly complete solar array (split across a 715-kW system and a 641-kW system). In addition, the battery back-up system would be used, if possible, to reduce demand charges through peak load shedding at the school during regular, non-emergency operation.
  • Chelmsford – $74,941 – Chelmsford is looking to retrofit an existing solar PV system to provide emergency generation in island mode at the McCarthy Middle School, which serves as a community shelter. The integrated system will provide automated controls for grid and island mode.
  • Greater Lawrence Sanitary District – $4,389,000 – The Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD), a Regional Wastewater District,  is pursuing a three-phased construction project (the grant award is for resiliency components of Phase 2 and Phase 3 only) to accept source separated organics (SSO) and produce electricity and heat for its main plant and electricity for its pump station. Phase 2 includes biogas metering, monitoring, collection and safety improvements, high pressure transfer pumps, an outside waste acceptance and blending tank, two 1550-kW CHP units, and electrical feeds from the main plan to the pump station.  Phase 3, includes the addition of a fourth anaerobic digester. Phase 3 includes the addition of a fourth anaerobic digester. The estimated cost to design and construct the entire project is estimated at $25 million.
  • Greenfield – $ 367,310 – The City of Greenfield is awarded funding for battery storage to complement a proposed 207-kW solar PV installation at its new LEED certified high school. Currently, the back-up power at the site is diesel powered generators that will operate for two to three days. With recent severe weather events and accompanying power outages for up to one week in some local areas, there is a strong need to have more resilient facilities that can meet the community’s needs. The new high school is in a perfect location to provide shelter and necessary services to the town’s growing elderly population and high percentage of high-needs populations.
  • Holyoke – $1,013,794 – Holyoke won funding at three different project sites, all of which will provide resiliency through the combination of islandable renewable energy generation and battery storage. After in depth analysis at the Fire Headquarters serving Holyoke, the Cadmus Group recommended a 53-kW photovoltaic system be installed on the roof of the building, paired with a 300-kWh battery bank. This combination, along with the existing back-up generator, would be enough to cover 100% of the building’s load in a grid outage for approximately three days. Holyoke looks to pursue this recommendation and is granted funding for the battery bank. Holyoke also looks to install a combination of a small PV system, small wind turbine, and a 200-kWh battery (for which it is awarded funding) at the Mt. Tom Tower, the emergency communication tower for the city. This combination will be enough to cover all of the facility’s load in a grid outage for about three days. The city also won funds to support pairing islanding equipment and a 483-kWh battery bank with a planned 600-kW PV array at the Dean School, a community shelter. This combination, along with the existing back-up generator, would be enough to cover all of the building’s load in a grid outage for about three days.
  • Medford – $833,366 – The City of Medford’s goal is to provide heat and power to as many of its key first responder facilities, critical infrastructure support buildings and potential large shelters as possible, during and after a major storm or grid-disruption. Medford is currently engaging with the MAPC regional procurement project to install solar PV at the DPW and Andrews School and requests support in integrating resiliency work at these facilities. The awarded resiliency project would involve adding islanding equipment and battery storage at each of the independent sites.
  • Metropolitan Area Planning Council – Beverly – $526,180 – This project, which specifically focuses on four critical facilities at the Beverly Cache Site, proposes a 232-kW PV array to be connected to the electric grid in a behind the meter configuration with 77-kWh of battery storage. This system will be used to power the four critical facilities in the event that the power grid is not operational. This site serves as a Regional Equipment Cache for the Northeast Massachusetts Homeland Security Region, the location of the Beverly, MA Civil Defense Department, as well as the home base of Massachusetts Task Force 1. The Northeast Massachusetts Homeland Security Region Cache houses and coordinates the lending and delivery of critical emergency response equipment to communities within the Region, as well as state wide, during local and widespread emergencies. The Beverly, MA Civil Defense Department coordinates all emergency management activities for the City. Massachusetts Task Force 1 is one of the Nation’s 28 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams.
  • Metropolitan Area Planning Council – Wayland – $264,627 – The Metropolitan Area Planning Council project in Wayland is awarded funding for the implementation of islanding capability and advanced switches at Wayland Middle School. Wayland is seeking to augment a proposed PV carport at the school with switchgear and inverters that would allow solar to decrease the burden on the diesel back-up generator during an event. As the town’s primary community shelter, Wayland’s Middle School has harbored folks in wheelchairs, people with their pets, senior citizens, and young families with children. As a regional shelter, it has hosted residents from other municipalities, including Weston, Framingham, and Sherborn. Adding resiliency features will leverage ongoing planning processes facilitated by MAPC to construct municipal solar installations. The proposed resiliency project will harden the clean energy infrastructure for the shelter while establishing an exciting demonstration of islanding/microgrid technology to which advanced battery storage systems can be added at a future date. While the requested amount is higher than the maximum award offered to Wayland, this facility does serve as a shelter for the region and is therefore eligible for a waiver of that maximum.
  • Northampton – $3,078,960 – The goal of the project is to increase the resiliency of three of Northampton’s high priority emergency facilities: the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School (SVAHS), the Department of Public Works (DPW), and Cooley Dickinson Hospital (CDH). The city plans to identify, through an engineering study, specific critical loads and an appropriate control strategy, verify the feasibility of interconnecting across the public way, identify an economically sized natural gas generation configuration or possible alternative on-site generation or storage at CDH, and determine the system benefits and impacts on the combined microgrid. Based on the engineering study findings, the city will construct a microgrid with on-site renewables and battery storage to serve the facilities.
  • Sterling – $1,463,194 – This proposed battery storage project would deliver multiple layers of resiliency benefits to the Sterling community. First, the battery array would be designed to ensure that the battery array is sized to allow for islanding of critical services within the Sterling police station and dispatch center. The goal is to be able to continue to supply heat, water, cooking equipment and life safety services that require electricity for up to 100 hours. The battery array will be used daily to provide real-time demand response, frequency regulation services, and off-peak to on-peak load shifting to increase the resiliency of Sterling’s solar-reliant microgrid.

The microgrids and resiliency projects are part of a wider climate change strategy by the Patrick Administration that also has resulted in installation of has nearly 806 MW of wind and solar. The state also has an aggressive energy efficiency agenda, and has been number one for four years running on a national scorecard tallied by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

The state’s clean energy efforts are influencing job growth. Clean tech accounts for 10.5 percent of job growth in the last year and 47 percent growth since 2010. Nearly 88,000 people are employed in the nearly 6,000 clean tech businesses in Massachusetts.

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Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.

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