Massachusetts last week awarded $7.4 million for community microgrid and resiliency projects, part of a larger $40 million program aimed at preventing power outages that could jeopardize critical services in towns and cities.
“This initiative is about being proactive, and not waiting until the next severe storm to react,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “These grants will assist communities in delivering critical services to residents, keeping people safer during times of danger.”
The program focuses on keeping electricity flowing to emergency services, shelters, food and fuel supply and communications infrastructure.
Cities and towns can apply for the funds through the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) for projects or technical assistance. Eligible projects include microgrids, islanding technologies, clean energy generation, energy storage and energy management systems.
The money comes from alternative compliance payments made to the state by electric retail suppliers if they do not meet the state renewable or alternative portfolio requirements.
Communities receiving technical assistance can apply for grants to implement projects in a second solicitation later this year.
“This initiative provides opportunities for cities and towns to effectively support their communities during climate change-induced events by allowing continued service of critical facilities with clean energy technology solutions,” said Meg Lusardi, DOER acting commissioner.
The Patrick Administration has been pursuing an aggressive climate change and green energy agenda. As a result, Massachusetts now has nearly 746 MW of wind and solar installed and 478 MW of CHP.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has named Massachusetts number one for three years running in its national scorecard for energy efficiency. Last year, Governor Patrick set a new solar goal to install 1,600 MW by 2020, after reaching the previous goal of 250 MW four years early.
Here are more details about the awards.
Berkley/Taunton – $1.46 million – The Berkley/Taunton Community Microgrid will be capable of providing near continuous emergency back-up services with a reduced carbon footprint while improving energy efficiency, reliability and resiliency to the towns of Berkley and Taunton. This project incorporates existing solar photovoltaics and diesel generation with a new battery array and control system within a microgrid configuration that will serve the middle school (a shelter), the Emergency Services Building, the Community School (a secondary evacuation shelter), the municipal fueling station/pump and the police/fire radio repeater.
Boston – $1.32 million – The City of Boston is proposing to install solar PV arrays with battery storage at four Boston Center for Youth and Families facilities that are designated emergency shelters and serve as local community centers for all ages. The solar PV with battery storage will enable the facilities to be islandable from the power grid, providing basic lighting, power and heating/cooling.
Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) – $611,000 – The GLSD, a Regional Wastewater District, is pursuing a three phase construction project to accept source separated organics (SSO) and produce electricity and heat for its main plant and electricity for its pump station. With Phase 1 currently underway, DOER is looking to support Phase 2 by adding biogas metering and monitoring improvements, high pressure transfer pumps to move thicker SSO material and outside waste acceptance and blending tanks to move GLSD even closer to SSO acceptance and full utilization. This support will also prepare GLSD to embark on Phase 3, which will include the addition of a fourth anaerobic digester, gas storage, combined heat and power (CHP) generators (2), and biogas collection and safety equipment upgrades. This final phase will allow GLSD to operate completely separate from the grid during an outage.
Northampton – $525,401 – This project will incorporate solar PV and batteries with existing diesel generation at the Northampton Fire Department Headquarters, the sole city facility capable of providing a significant number of critical municipal services. The project will allow for diversified fuel sources available for power production during an extended outage, prioritize new emergency power generation systems, offset use of emergency fuel oil during long term power outages, reduce the environmental impacts from power generation for the facility and improve grid-tied power reliability by enabling peak-shaving and load shedding.
South Essex Sewerage District – $700,000 – This project is for the procurement and construction of a combined heat and power facility at the South Essex Sewerage District, which includes Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, Peabody and Salem. The CHP unit is designed to provide a portion of the electrical power, in parallel with the grid, to operate the district’s wastewater treatment process and pumping equipment. The unit is black-start capable and is anticipated to provide back-up power to some portion of the plant in the event of an outage. Additionally, heat generated by the unit will provide hot water for essential odor control and building space temperature control.
Springfield – $2.79 million – The City of Springfield, in partnership with Baystate Health, is currently in design development of a 4.6 megawatt CHP plant which will provide electricity, chilled water and steam to the hospital. The plant would include a gas turbine generator, heat recovery steam generator, absorption chiller, black-start diesel generator and load management system. The plant will produce 80 percent of the hospital’s annual energy consumption, 68 percent of electricity and 97 percent of steam.
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