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Gov. Malloy Launches Innovative Microgrid to Help Woodbridge Provide Critical Services During Outages

Clean Energy-Fueled Facility Will Help Maintain Critical Services during Storms, Blackouts and Other Emergencies

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy, along with Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Robert Klee, Woodbridge First Selectman Beth Heller, and United Illuminating (UI) CEO Anthony J. Marone, today celebrated the launch of the Town of Woodbridge’s innovative new microgrid to provide reliable power for police, fire and other emergency services. It is the result of a collaborative partnership between the State of Connecticut, the Town of Woodbridge, the Amity Regional School District, and UI.

“Make no mistake, climate change is real and we must plan for future storms and resulting power outages,” Governor Malloy said. “This project highlights two important initiatives that are driving innovative solutions to challenges that we face as a state: the state Microgrid Pilot Program, which seeks to maintain a high level of reliability of public and utility services, and the Renewable Connections Program, which has expanded the use of clean energy sources in the state.”

The UI-built microgrid, which recently entered service, is capable of providing “always-on” clean energy to seven critical town facilities, even when the surrounding power grid goes dark. UI’s new fuel cell at nearby Amity Regional High School serves its power source

“Microgrids projects, such as this one in Woodbridge, help to ensure that critical government services are available even when the power goes out,” Commissioner Klee said. “Connecticut is leading the way in energy innovations, so when the next severe storm hits – and it will hit – we are prepared to respond.”

The town initiated the project when it sought and received a $3 million grant from the State of Connecticut’s first-in-the-nation Microgrid Pilot Program. UI, a subsidiary of AVANGRID, Inc., was engaged to build the microgrid and developed a plan to power it via a new fuel cell at Amity Regional High School.

The fuel cell was completed in 2016. When it is not providing emergency power to the town’s microgrid, it contributes up to 2.2 megawatts of clean, class 1 renewable energy to the regional power grid. UI installed the fuel cell to help meet its obligation to generate up to 10 MW of renewable energy under Connecticut’s Renewables Connections Program.

“As we were reminded during recent extreme weather events, it is crucial that we are able to provide emergency services and shelter to residents who may be without power and heat for days after a storm,” First Selectman Heller said. “This unique microgrid will help ensure that these services remain available.”

“This was an exciting project for us at UI because it met several important objectives at once,” Marone said. “By providing a local renewable generation source, along with the design and construction of a utility-grade microgrid, we delivered an integrated resiliency solution to the Town of Woodbridge. Completing this one-of-a-kind project was the result of a collaborative partnership between United Illuminating, the State of Connecticut, the Amity Regional School District and the Town of Woodbridge.”

In addition to generating renewable energy for the power grid and serving as a power source for the town’s microgrid, the fuel cell, constructed by FuelCell Energy, Inc. of Danbury, also helps heat the Amity high school. Waste heat from the plant’s operation is piped to the high school to reduce its overall heating needs.

Fuel Cell Energy also built the unique controller device that activates the microgrid when the surrounding grid loses service during a storm or other event. The device allows the microgrid to be controlled by UI as part of its distribution system even when it is in so-called “island mode,” operating independently of the surrounding power grid.

The microgrid was officially put into service in February; it has not yet been activated as part of a storm or other event.

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