Quick Microgrid News: Minnesota Breaks Stereotype…No Harm from California Microgrid…More NY Prize Wins

June 4, 2015
The Midwest might not be a bad place for CHP microgrids…Humboldt State wins environmental okay for its tribal microgrid…More NY Prize winners move forward with studies

In this week’s microgrid news…

A microgrid being installed at a data center is Minnesota is breaking the stereotype that the Midwest isn’t a friendly place for combined heat and power (CHP).

That’s the word from Justin Rathke, president of Vergent Power, the Capstone Turbine distributor for the Upper Midwest, New England and Eastern Canada.

Capstone Turbine will supply a 600-kW microturbine for the microgrid being developed at the OATI data center in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“This is a groundbreaking project because for many years the prevailing theory was that the Midwest was not a hospitable market for cogeneration and trigeneration projects due to poor project economics and the conservative nature of the market here,” Rathke said.

The Midwest market is opening up to CHP because of lower natural gas prices coupled and rising electric rates, he said.

The C600 package will provide the new OATI South Campus facility with electricity, hot water and chilled water. OATI provides software-as-a-service to the energy industry.

The microturbine will be able to provide power in stand-alone mode should the grid fail. It will operate in parallel with wind, solar, and energy storage systems at the facility, along with the utility grid network.

“Microgrids, along with other forms of localized distributed generation, are set to transform the North American power grid,” said David Heim, OATI chief strategy officer. “The OATI South Campus, with the Capstone microturbine and other generation and energy storage technologies, will play an important role in proving how microgrids can bring significant benefit for building owners as well as the greater grid as a whole.”

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The Blue Lake Rancheria tribal microgrid, under design by Humboldt State University, has received a threshold environmental okay from the California Energy Commission.

The commission recently found that the project would not have a significant impact on the environment.

The review was required under the California Environmental Quality Act because the commission is providing a $5 million grant for the tribal microgrid.

The microgrid will include a 500-kW ground-mounted solar array, a 175-MW biomass gasifier fuel cell, and an 800-kWh battery system. The project is being designed for potential expansion to 1 MW of solar and 1,600 kWh of battery storage.

The system is expected to offer cost savings for the tribe, which operates a hotel and casino on the property, as well as reduce stress on California’s grid through demand response, peak shaving and load shedding.

The tribal land serves as an American Red Cross critical support facility in northern California, an area prone to earthquakes and wildfires.

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Two more New York communities are reporting that they have won $100,000 NY Prize grants to study the feasibility of building microgrids; Cayuga County and the Village of Port Jefferson.

Cayuga County plans to install a microgrid to serve an industrial park and other nearby facilities, according to Cogen Power Technologies, which will handle the project’s feasibility study.

The Village of Port Jefferson, New York, also is moving forward with a microgrid study, which will look at several critical facilities for possible microgrid service: a fire station, a medical facility, a water pumping facility, a wastewater treatment plant, a department of public works facility, a ferry station, a train station, a village hall, two hospitals, a library, and two school complexes.

The village is working with D&B Engineers and Architects, Burns Engineering, GE Energy Consulting, Global Common, Suffolk County, and Public Service Electric and Gas.

The projects are among several vying for a total $40 million offered through the NY Prize, a program designed to encourage community microgrids and administered by the New York Energy Research and Development Authority.

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Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

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