The Connecticut State Bond Commission Tuesday voted to release $30 million in microgrid funds for new projects in the third round of the state’s grant and loan program.
The state began accepting applications for the latest round of microgrid funds about a year ago. But the money was not yet available, which the state believes caused an initial slow response from the industry. With the money available following the bond commission vote, the state expects to see an increase in interest, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
“By creating microgrids, we can provide power for critical government operations, shelter for the public, and business services people need, even when the lights go out elsewhere,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. “This funding will mean further progress in our efforts to minimize hardships to our residents and businesses during times when the electric power grid goes down as the result of severe storms.”
Connecticut was the first state to kick off a comprehensive microgrid grant and loan program. The program emerged out of a legislative package offered by Gov. Malloy in 2012 after several major storms caused widespread power outages.
“In addition to playing a critical role when the electric grid goes down, microgrids offer a real opportunity to diversify and decentralize our power system,” said Robert Klee, DEEP commissioner. “Microgrids can provide power for their designated service area through a variety of reliable and environmentally friendly resources, such as fuel cells, combined heat and power Systems, and anaerobic digesters.”
Funds from the latest request for proposals (RFP) can be used for design, engineering, and interconnection. They can also be used to purchase and install generation, including energy storage, for the microgrid.
Three projects that received microgrid funds in earlier rounds are now up and running. They are located at Wesleyan University in Middletown, the Town of Fairfield, and the University of Hartford, according to a news release issued by the state.
Two other projects are built but await testing results before they become fully operational. These include projects in Windham and at the University of Bridgeport.
Four projects are in the design or construction phase and are expected to begin operating in 2017 or 2018. They include projects in Hartford, Bridgeport, Woodbridge and Milford.
One project — the U.S. Navy sub base in Groton — dropped out of the state program because it received an alternative source of funding.
The grant money is being offered on a revolving basis until the money is depleted, marking a key difference between the third grant solicitation and the earlier rounds of funding. So the companies are not being asked to compete against each other. Instead, each project will be considered on its own merit, an approach that acknowledges the highly customized nature of microgrids.
See more details about the RFP here.
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