Tag Archives: energy

New York State’s Bold New Plan to Restructure Its Electricity System

Electricity is rediscovering its roots by virtue of the advantages that twenty-first century technologies offer. In the transportation sector, cleaner more fuel-efficient electric vehicles recall the early years of the automobile industry, when nearly one-third of cars manufactured in the U.S. had electric motors. And today’s electricity grid is revisiting the embryonic power system of the late eighteen- and early nineteen-hundreds, when electricity generated in small neighborhood plants powered gears and kept the lights on. Continue reading

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As Connecticut Enacts Moratorium on Fracking Waste, other States in Region Consider Bills

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy has signed into law a bill that creates a three-year moratorium on the disposal, storage, treatment or sale of waste produced from hydraulic fracturing, and instructs state environmental officials to devise a regulatory policy for handling … Continue reading

Multimedia: Connecticut’s Microgrid Pilot: A Conversation with Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty

Commissioner Esty recently spoke with CSG/ERC Energy & Environment Program staff about Connecticut’s first-in-the nation microgrid pilot, which will test a range of engineering, technological and policy approaches to keeping critical facilities operating when the main grid loses power.

Click here to view the video.

Note:  This video is part of a new CSG/ERC series intended to inform our members about innovative policies being implemented in our region. The views expressed in our video podcasts do not represent official CSG/ERC policy positions.

Pilot Overview: Reimagining the Grid of the 21st Century

Following a spate of severe storms in recent years that led to widespread, prolonged power outages across Connecticut, state officials have taken a series of steps to strengthen the electricity system to make it more resilient to the impacts of extreme weather. Central to this effort is Public Act 12-148, signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy last year, which creates a first-in-the nation statewide Microgrid Pilot Program that will test a range of engineering, technological and policy approaches to keeping critical facilities operating when the main grid loses power.

A microgrid is a small-scale, integrated electricity generation and distribution system that can be managed locally and independently from the broader power grid.  The system is powered by onsite, distributed generation that can include a combination of power sources, depending on the system’s design. They include natural-gas turbines, diesel generators, fuel cells, anaerobic digesters powered by methane from sewage-treatment plants, solar arrays and wind turbines.

As part of the first phase of Connecticut’s pilot program, the General Assembly allocated an initial $18 million to fund nine small-scale projects across the state. The microgrids being developed are intended to provide electricity around the clock to a range of facilities in the case of a power outage, and will have the ability to “island,” or isolate, from the larger grid when it goes down.

“We think this is breaking through to a new model, a new approach to what the electricity system of the twenty-first century is going to look like,” said Daniel Esty, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which is overseeing the state’s microgrid pilot.  “I think there are a lot of folks out there who have begun to conclude that we can’t be as reliant on a few big power plants, that the idea and the logic of distributed generation is quite significant.”

Recipients of the first round of funding include universities, hospitals, local emergency-response facilities and commercial centers.

Alex Kragie, special assistant to Commissioner Esty, said the microgrid pilot is part of a broader initiative that Connecticut officials are implementing to modernize the electricity system. “There are obviously lots of aspects of the microgrids that require a smart grid by definition,” said Kragie.  “You have to have hardware and software in place that will allow for this islandable capacity to be active during an outage situation. The microgrid is part of this smarter grid initiative that is happening across the state.”

While the concept of a microgrid is not new, it is increasingly being embraced by state and local officials in eastern states seeking to make the power system more resilient in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and other massive storms that have caused widespread electricity-system outages. Microgrids have long been utilized by commercial entities and universities, and in recent years, they have been developed by the military as a way to ensure a more secure power supply.  Connecticut is partnering with the Department of Defense, which has made a commitment to installing microgrids at a number of its critical facilities.

Gov. Dannel Malloy has recommended that an additional $30 million be allocated to the pilot program over the next two years.

More information on Connecticut’s Microgrid Pilot Program:

DEEP Microgrid Grant and Loan Pilot Program

Public Act 12-148

Gov. Malloy Announces Nation’s First Statewide Microgrid Pilot

Information on microgrid projects in other states:

New York and California are two states that have been moving to promote microgrids in recent years. For more information see:

New York:

Microgrids: An Assessment of the Value, Opportunities and Barriers to Deployment in New York State, Prepared for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, September 2010.

California:

The California Energy Commission has supported a range of microgrid efforts. Here are two press releases announcing recent projects:

Energy Commission Awards 1.7 Million for Military Microgrid Project, July 8, 2013.

Energy Commission Awards More than $1.8 Million for UC San Diego Microgrid Projects, January 9, 2013.

First North American Offshore Wind Turbine Launched in Maine Waters

Photo courtesy of Advanced Structures and Composites Center, University of Maine

Photo courtesy of Advanced Structures and Composites Center, University of Maine

By Rona Cohen

Last Friday, the Gulf of Maine became host to North America’s first grid-connected offshore wind turbine, as part of a performance test  for an innovative floating technology that proponents hope will advance an industry that has struggled to gain a foothold in this country. Continue reading

New Jersey Officials Examine the Costs and Benefits of Storm Preparedness

NJ hearing photoAs the process of assessing the scope of damages from Superstorm Sandy moves forward, one of the confounding issues for policymakers and emergency responders is the sheer level of uncertainty inherent in even the best-informed efforts to safeguard critical infrastructure from damages. Continue reading

New England’s Support for Distributed Generation and the Electricity Grid of the Future

As multiple states stagger under the effects of superstorm Sandy, and many Northeasterners vividly recall Tropical Storms Irene and Lee and the freak October blizzard of 2011, prolonged power outages are among the most challenging repercussions for those in afflicted areas. One type of protection against widespread outages can be offered by a less centralized grid, with distributed generation of electricity providing localized power resources that could ride out a storm more successfully. Continue reading

Stakeholders, Experts Weigh in as RGGI Undertakes a Program Review

Despite the absence of a federal policy to restrict emissions of the greenhouse gases that fuel climate change, a number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces have rolled out programs to achieve this goal.  Among such efforts, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based cap-and-trade auction system launched in late 2008 by ten Northeastern states, is the North American pioneer.[1] Continue reading