DEEP: Microgrid Grant and Loan Program

Microgrid Grant and Loan Program
The Connecticut Microgrid Program was created in order to support local distributed energy generation for critical facilities. The program stems from Public Act 12-148, Section 7, which requires that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection establish a pilot of such a program. The act was created after multiple episodes of severe weather caused widespread power outages for extended periods of time. The program is designed to create ways so that critical buildings will remain powered during electrical grid outages.     

Governor Malloy announced the awardees of the first-in-the nation statewide microgrid pilot on July 24, 2013.  During the announcement he stated the nine microgrid projects that were “awarded a total of $18 million in funding primarily through the DEEP Microgrid Pilot Program.”   Governor Malloy recommended, and in Public Act 13-298 the legislature authorized, an additional $30 million in funding for the Microgrid Program to expand microgrids to other Connecticut communities over the next two years.
What is a microgrid?
A microgrid is a local energy grid with control capability.  This allows the local grid the ability to disconnect from the traditional grid. The grid is the central power source that supplies power to a wide range of buildings and homes over a very large area.  A microgrid can operate in both grid- connected or island mode.  
An easy way to think of the concept of a microgrid is to think of having a community garden.  Any person connected with the local garden can get their produce from a grocery store, or from the garden.  For a short period of time, there is a shortage on vegetables and all stores in the area do not have any.  Luckily, the local garden has enough for those that need them most.  The community with the garden is able to maintain a level of normalcy while all others must wait until the supply at the store can be restocked.      
A microgrid generally operates while connected to the grid, but in times of crisis, such as power outages and storms, or for any other reason, a microgrid can separate from the grid and operate on its own in what is known as island mode.  A microgrid will use its own local energy generation that can be powered by renewable sources (solar panels, wind, hydro), fuel cells, batteries, or fossil fuels.
What are Connecticut’s plans for microgrids?
Nine various projects throughout CT were awarded a total of $18 million in grants in the Pilot Round in order to provide assistance for the cost of design, engineering services, and interconnection infrastructure.  “These projects were among 36 originally submitted in response to a request for microgrid concepts. DEEP, in coordination with an expert technical consultant and the state’s two major electric utilities, conducted a feasibility analysis and in February [2013], 27 of the 36 submitted projects moved on to a final round of assessment. Projects not funded in this round are encouraged to participate in future rounds of funding.”
Requests for proposals for Round 2 of the program were due on August 6, 2014.  The selection of non-municipal and municipal Round 2 Award Winners was announced in October 2014.
Under the Microgrid Program, grants can be awarded to any number of recipients to support critical facilities and are to be distributed evenly between small, medium, and large municipalities, if possible.  The total amount of grants is not to exceed $15 million each year.  Critical facilities  are defined as, “any hospital, police station, water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, public shelter, or correctional facility, any commercial area of a municipality, a municipal center…” Public Act 12-148, Section 7
Municipalities and other program participants that wish to make their critical facilities more resilient through a microgrid may be eligible for financing offered through the Connecticut Green Bank, formerly known as the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.  “A project must have received, or be in the process of applying for, a Connecticut Microgrid Program grant.”  For more information on financing, please visit Finance Your Municipal Microgrid.  
CT DEEP Microgrid Award Winners and Updates
On March 6, 2014, Wesleyan University in Middletown became the first of the CT microgrid projects to come online.  Wesleyan’s 676 kW natural gas Combined Heat and Power (CHP) reciprocating engines were able to be connected to the campus electrical grid thanks to the program.  They will constantly supply power to the campus, but have the ability to go into island mode when necessary so that critical facilities will remain with electricity during power failures.
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Content last updated December 2014