Schneider Electric and FuelCell Energy Win in Connecticut Microgrid RFP

Oct. 9, 2014
Schneider Electric and FuelCell Energy were among winners in the second Connecticut microgrid request for proposals, announced Oct. 8. The state issued $5.1 million in this round. Stay tuned — Connecticut is planning a third microgrid solicitation.

Superstorm Sandy’s destruction
Credit: By Peetlesnumber1

Projects planned by Schneider Electric and FuelCell Energy were among winners of $5.1 million in grants from the second Connecticut microgrid request for proposals.

The winning pilot projects are in the cities of Milford and Bridgeport, according to an October 8 announcement by Governor Dannel Malloy.

Millford will receive $2.9 million and Bridgeport $2.2 million.

The second solicitation had offered $15 million in funds, so not all of the money was spent and remains in Connecticut’s coffers for additional projects. The state is planning a third solicitation for micogrids, according to Dennis Schain, spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). No date has been set.

Connecticut has been conducting the solicitations to ensure that critical buildings and facilities have power should the grid go down.

“Microgrids are an essential part of our strategy to make certain we can better withstand the type of catastrophic storms we have experienced in recent years – and the extended loss of power that accompanies them,” Malloy said.

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The Milford microgrid will be developed by Schneider Electric, Green Energy Corp. and ZHP Systems in partnership with the city, according to a filing before DEEP. It will serve the Parsons Government Center, middle school, senior center, senior housing and city hall.  The middle school and senior center will be available as shelters for residents during a power outage.

The grant will fund design, engineering and interconnection infrastructure costs for Milford.  The microgrid will be powered by two 148-kW natural gas combined heat and power units, a 120-kW solar array and a 100-kW battery energy storage system.

“Over the past few years, Milford has been tested and tested again by storms of biblical proportion.  Given our city’s history, we believe deeply in storm preparedness and a hardened infrastructure,” said Ben Blake, Milford’s mayor. “Not only will this microgrid provide a new layer of fortification during storms, it will also create significant energy savings.  I appreciate Governor Malloy’s and DEEP’s commitment to projects that both drive efficiencies and bolster our resiliency.”

With 14 miles of coastline along Long Island Sound, Milford accounted for more than half of the homes damaged in New Haven County during Superstorm Sandy.

The Bridgeport microgrid will provide power to buildings at the University of Bridgeport, including a dining hall, recreation center, student center, police station and two residence halls.  The DEEP microgrid grant will provide almost $2.2 million in funding for eligible design, engineering and interconnection infrastructure costs.

FuelCell Energy will provide a 1.4-MW fuel cell for the projects. The college buildings will be available to serve city residents during a power outage or emergency.  The on-campus facilities can provide shelter to about 2,700 residents and the dining hall can provide food service to residents as well as emergency responders.  This project is a logical companion to a Bridgeport microgrid project funded in a first round of grants, which will provide power largely for critical city services.

“Sustainable and affordable energy is an increasingly important component of the new energy mix at the University of Bridgeport,” said UB George Estrada, UB director of facilities  “Our Renewable Energy Research Lab evaluates technologies in energy conversion, utilization, and storage in fuel cells, solar, wind, and hybrid systems.  This living lab is motivated by the strong need to prepare the next generation of inter-disciplinary engineers who have a comprehensive background in sustainable energy, and this fuel cell installation will help us achieve our goals by enabling us to practice what we teach.”

The microgrids in both cities will provide power for government services and businesses that are critical during extreme weather events such as police, fire, and emergency response teams, shelters, dining facilities, state and town emergency response centers, grocery stores, and gas stations, according to the DEEP.

“We are working to modernize, upgrade, and strengthen the electric grid system but there are still going to be times when the forces of nature are just too strong and the power does go out,”  Malloy said.  “These are the moments when microgrids will prove to be invaluable.”

Connecticut created the Microgrid Pilot Program under Public Act 12-148, designed to increase the safety and quality of life to Connecticut residents during electric grid outage situations.

Malloy will request that funding for the new Bridgeport and Milford projects be approved by the state Bond Commission.

In all, the state has granted $23 million through the program thus far, including$18 million in the first round of grants in July 2013 to nine microgrid projects in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham, and Woodbridge as part of the Governor’s Storm Legislation.  One of the projects – at Wesleyan University, Middletown – is already operating.  The others remain in development.

DEEP  plans to hold a workshop to receive comments and feedback on the microgrid program with participants and others interested parties.

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, 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.

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