New Jersey is now offering grants of up to $200,000 to help towns and state agencies take the first step toward installing what the state calls town center microgrids.
The Board of Public Utilities kicked off the first 60-day application window for the program on Wednesday (Docket No. QO16100967). The board expects to provide 5-12 grants for microgrid feasibility studies from a $1 million budget. Only state agencies and local governments may apply for the money.
The town center microgrid program evolved out of Gov. Chris Christie’s plan to make the state more storm resilient following the devastation of Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Funding is initially limited to storm-vulnerable areas identified by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) for potential microgrids.
As part of the town center program, the board will establish a statewide microgrid policy for connecting multiple customers across multiple rights of ways for both electric and thermal energy.
Each town center microgrid must have a nucleus of critical buildings — such as hospitals, police stations, and shelters that offer emergency services. During power outages, the microgrid will provide electricity for the facilities. When the grid is functioning normally, the microgrid will provide cost-effective service.
To be eligible, a community must be served by a regulated electric utility that collects a societal benefits charge on its electric bill to customers. Such charges are often used to fund programs mandated by states.
Following completion of the feasibility studies, winners will be invited to move into the second stage of the program, which will seek detailed engineering design.
Preference will go to applications that show a high degree of planning and can implement every aspect of a microgrid proposal. Each applicant must:
- Identify the proposed facilities, show how they were identified, and demonstrate that the facilities are commited to participate in the feasibility study
- Show an understanding of the technical and power infrastructure needs of each critical facility
- Show an understanding of the town center’s electric and thermal energy needs, distributed energy resources, interconnection technologies, utility requirements and initial microgrid cost/benefit modeling.
The grant application is available here.
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