Bridgeport, CT/Torrance, CA—Partner Engineering and Science, Inc. (Partner), a national environmental and engineering consulting firm headquartered in Torrance, CA, has successfully participated in the development of a microgrid project with the City of Bridgeport, CT for its city hall complex, police headquarters and a nearby senior center. The Bridgeport microgrid – part of a statewide pilot program launched in January 2013 – is the first of its kind in the United States and is designed to provide power to several critical, public facilities for a minimum of four weeks during any future outages. The project is targeting a completion date of July 2014.
Administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Bureau of Energy and Technology, this project will serve as a case study on how to implement microgrids on a wide scale. Additionally, according to a recent report, this movement from traditional/privately owned microgrids to those funded publicly will drive the microgrid market from an $8 billion-per-year industry in 2013 to a $40 billion-per-year industry by 2020.
As the energy consultant to the city, Partner also played a significant role in the application process that resulted in Bridgeport’s receipt of a $2.97 million grant for the development and construction of the 1.8 megawatt microgrid.
In response to multiple, crippling power outages in the state of Connecticut – some lasting up to two weeks – the state legislature recently implemented a program that will assist municipalities in funding microgrid infrastructure to supply critical city facilities with uninterruptible power. Microgrids consist of distributed generation assets that allow the microgrid to operate with or without the existing utility grid. This provides facilities that are connected to the microgrid with power during weather or other utility events that may cause extended outages.
In the wake of Hurricane Irene, the October 2012 snow storm and Hurricane Sandy – which not only damaged property, but also the economies of the communities affected – legislators saw a need to increase the reliability of power supplies to critical public facilities and made $18 million available to fund these projects.
Partner, already an energy consultant to Bridgeport’s Energy Improvement District, was tasked by the city with the development of a viable microgrid project. Throughout the development process, Partner worked closely with the New Jersey companies of Epic Management, Inc. and Triad Consulting Engineers, Inc., both strategic partners with Partner in serving the city.
“Partner is proud to be at the cutting edge of the emerging charge in developing microgrids that provide isolated power that cannot be interrupted with weather, transmission or distribution events,” said Fred Fastiggi, director of energy consulting with Partner. “Power outages, especially those resulting from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, have severely impacted hundreds of families and the overall economies of the victimized communities. Partner is excited to develop groundbreaking programs that will eliminate significant power loss in the future.”
As part of Bridgeport’s microgrid development process, Partner screened multiple potential locations within the city to locate suitable sites for the microgrid, analyzing the electric loads and site conditions to qualify targeted sites. Additionally, they participated in the sizing and selection of equipment and preparing all materials for the initial application of the grant. Partner also worked with United Illuminating, the local utility company, to attain an approved design for interconnecting with their grid.
According to recent research, Bridgeport is the first of many communities that will respond to an increasing need for microgrids. The growing popularity of these projects is a result of both the security of un-interruptible power they provide and their ability to alleviate the congestion of electricity and lower overall energy costs in the long term.
“Partner is at the forefront of an effort that will accelerate in the next several years because there is a need across the region,” said Fastiggi. “According to recent reports, the microgrid capacity in North America is expected to reach 5.9 gigawatts by 2020, which will represent 64 percent of the worldwide microgrid capacity.”