May 8, 2018

Woodbridge launches microgrid built with $3M state grant

Next time there's a storm that knocks out power in Woodbridge, the lights will stay on at the police station, fire department and other key buildings in town.

Gov. Dannel Malloy joined Woodbridge and United Illuminating officials Monday to officially launch the town's new microgrid, paid for with a $3 million state grant.

Powered by a fuel cell installed in 2016 at Amity Regional High School, the microgrid, put into service in February, can operate independently to supply clean energy to seven town buildings even when the surrounding power grid goes dark, officials said.

"Microgrid projects such as this one in Woodbridge help to ensure that critical government services are available, even when the power goes out," said state Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee.

Klee joined Malloy for the launch along with Woodbridge First Selectman Beth Heller and United Illuminating CEO Anthony J. Marone.

Woodbridge paid for the project through a $3 million grant from the state's Microgrid Pilot Program, the first of its kind in the country, according to officials.

Heller said the project will help the town provide emergency services and shelter to residents during power outages after storms.

The town enlisted UI to build the microgrid and developed a plan to power it through the fuel cell, built by Danbury-based Fuel Cell Energy.

UI installed the fuel cell to help meet an obligation to generate up to 10 megawatts of renewable energy under Connecticut's Renewables Connections Program, aimed at expanding clean energy in the state, officials said.

When not providing emergency power to the microgrid, the fuel cell contributes up to 2.2 megawatts of renewable energy to the regional power grid.

Officials said waste heat from the fuel cell is piped to the high school to reduce overall heating costs.

Natalie Missakian can be reached at news@newhavenbiz.com

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