What is a Microgrid? There is a great article on MicrogridKnowledge.com called Microgrids 101: A Non-geek Definition of Microgrid which you can read by clicking the hyperlink. It explains that a Microgrid is a mini-version of the electric grid - but smarter and more efficient. These mini-grids serve a small geographic area, maybe a hospital, a police station, fire stations, grocery stores and gas stations. Microgrids offer an excellent way to keep the power flowing to these critical and key facilities when the grid is down.
The Rockville Centre Electric Department is currently participating in Stage 2 of the New York Prize Community Microgrid Competition in which the Village was one of 11 entities throughout New York State to receive a $1million grant for the Detailed Engineering Design, Commercialization, Financial and Business Plan Assessment of a Microgrid. The proposed Microgrid would provide energy to approximately 60 critical and key facilities such as the Police and Fire Departments, Village Hall, Water Department pump stations, hospitals and critical care facilities, supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations. The memory of the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy is still in our minds, and the Village has been looking for ways to lessen and prevent the effects of long-term outages that we experienced during Sandy in the future.
The components of the Village's Microgrid project include the installation of a new 6-8MW natural gas fired engine generator, which will provide low-emission energy to the critical and key facilities, along with the Village's current generators. We are also planning to install approximately 1-2MW of solar panels on the rooftops of three Village-owned buildings and several electric vehicle charging stations. A Demand-Side Management (DSM) program for residential and small business customers would include smart thermostats, an internet based system whereby RVC may control customer thermostats during peak demand periods, transmission interruptions and emergency events in return for incentives for those who participate. We have also begun to replace the older high pressure sodium and mercury vapor street lights with more efficient LED lights. To date we have replaced approximately one-third of the Village's street lights.
Looking ahead, the Rockville Centre Electric Department will submit an application for Stage 3 of the New York Prize Competition, which will consist of the actual construction of the Microgrid. The Village hopes to be one of several entities to be awarded approximately $4-6million to partially offset the cost of the Microgrid. Watch this space for updates!