Maryland Agency Awards $566,000 in Microgrid Grants

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The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) issued $566,000 in microgrid grants to eight organizations to fund feasibility studies, planning and design for projects.

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The funding is from the agency’s Resilient Maryland program, which aims to help eligible organizations and governmental entities set up microgrids, resiliency hubs, resilient facility power systems and advanced combined heat and power (CHP) systems.

“Maryland continues to lead by example, providing funding to help Maryland communities and organizations address energy resiliency through the use of cleaner and renewable energy options,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said May 25.

One of the biggest hurdles to moving projects ahead is getting organizational decision makers to pay for a project’s initial studies, which can be expensive, according to the MEA. The microgrid grants are designed to overcome that hurdle so projects can gain financing and move ahead, the agency said.

Microgrid grants go to communities, hospital, campus, others

The MEA awarded the city of Frostburg $100,000 to study a community microgrid to serve city infrastructure that includes public safety and potential emergency shelters as well as the water supply and wastewater systems.

The microgrid will mainly consider solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage systems as well as an energy management system, according to the state agency.

Learn more about Maryland’s program in a special presentation at Microgrid 2021 by the MEA’s Brandon Bowser, “Real World Resiliency Planning for Higher Education: Frostburg State University,” June 3, 11 a.m. EST. Registration is free by June 2.

Baltimore received $100,000 to study a microgrid for the city’s downtown municipal campus, which includes 14 buildings that provide essential city services.

Microgrid components being considered are CHP, solar PV systems on individual buildings operating under a universal power purchase agreement, electric vehicle charging, and battery energy storage, the MEA said.

The Meritus Medical Center in Hagerstown will use its $100,000 grant to plan a microgrid for its hospital and associated medical campus. The proposed microgrid may include solar PV arrays and battery energy storage with integrated electric vehicle charging, and a CHP system to maintain a baseload power supply, according to the MEA.

The MEA awarded the University of Maryland $100,000 for a possible microgrid at its Central Maryland Research and Education Center in Clarksville. The agricultural research station is considering solar PV, CHP, solid and liquid anaerobic digestion to create biogas, and the integration of an energy management system, the state energy agency said.

Possible model for municipal utilities

The MEA gave the town of Williamsport $100,000 for initial planning for a microgrid covering critical operations, such as a water treatment facility, a nursing home community and emergency services.

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The town has a municipal utility. The MEA said the project could be a model for other municipal utilities, which typically do not have the capital needed to install new grid infrastructure.

Smaller awards were given to a poultry farm, the Jefferson Ruritan Club and the town of Poolesville, which is considering setting up a network of solar PV and battery storage nanogrids to power streetlights and public Wi-Fi hot spots.

The next cycle of the MEA grant program is set to begin in July.

The agency awarded $1 million in microgrid grants last year, the program’s first year.

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