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Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy Activate First-of-its-kind Microgrid at Daughters of Mary

Photo: Citizens Energy / Hannah Goetz

North American Clean Energy

Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, joins Citizens Energy to flip the switch on a one-of-a-kind microgrid to power four critical community facilities at the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception campus.

Solar panels support first-of-its-kind microgrid at Daughters of Mary campus, activated by Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy

Solar panels support first-of-its-kind microgrid at Daughters of Mary campus, activated by Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy

Schneider Electric VP of Microgrids Don Wingate is today joined by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, now managing director at Citizens Energy Corporation, and Mayor Erin E. Stewart of New Britain, CT DEEP Acting Deputy Commissioner of Energy and Technology Policy Vicki Hackett, Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk from the Daughters of Mary, and Connecticut Green Bank CEO Bryan Garcia to dedicate the unique microgrid.

The project was named in honor of the late Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll, who first led the order down the path of sustainable energy development. The first installation, a solar array, was completed five years ago and is now a key component of the campus microgrid to serve its senior living facilities.

"We are so proud to celebrate this massive feat for renewables today," said Kennedy, who joined Citizens Energy to develop new business opportunities. "My father founded this company to be a change maker. Not only are we fulfilling our mission to make life's basic needs more affordable, but we are building the clean energy projects that others only talk about. This may be the first of its kind, but it won't be the last!"

The project transforms the 137-acre campus into a groundbreaking renewable energy hub, using green energy to power four standalone buildings and reduce energy costs for the organization. The $7 million project ensures that the critical institution will be able to provide much-needed social services and senior care through emergencies that threaten the local electric grid.

"Throughout my entire time as Mayor we have placed an emphasis on making New Britain a greener, more sustainable City," said Mayor Erin E. Stewart. "This microgrid project fits in perfectly with that mission and we appreciate the Daughters of Mary for their efforts to help New Britain reduce its environmental footprint."

"We, the Daughters of Mary, are so proud and pleased to play a role in such an important and viable environmental issue," said Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk. "We are grateful to Mother Mary Jennifer for her vision and foresight to pioneer into unchartered territory and achieve such innovative and financial success. We also wish to thank her 'silent partner,' Karen Kulak, for her due diligence in pursuing this unique battery concept and working alongside of Mother Jennifer, during and after, to see it to completion."

The innovative design combines 1.4 megawatt hours of battery storage capacity with a total of 1.2 megawatts of solar generation to create a completely self-sufficient system. This unique technology utilizes funding provided by a grant from the State of Connecticut administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in the amount of $3.9 million, the largest-of-its-kind for microgrid development to be completed. The project is also the state's first microgrid capable of operating on 100% renewable energy around the clock in island mode.

"I applaud the pioneering vision of the Daughters of Mary to continue innovating the energy system on their campus," DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. "This advanced microgrid is the first in Connecticut to combine solar panels and battery storage to provide an extra layer of resilience for up to 19 days of continuous power to ensure that the important care and services the Daughters of Mary provide can continue during a power outage."

This state-of-the-art technology is essentially four individual microgrids that deploy groundbreaking engineering work to allow the individual systems to remain grid-tied, island independently, or share electrons and island together as one larger microgrid. The installation also includes a 250 kW natural gas generator for emergency use. This first-of-its-kind solution is also Citizens Energy's first project with its strategic alliance partner, Schneider Electric.

"On behalf of the full team at Schneider Electric, we're honored to have been selected as a trusted alliance partner to make this incredibly dynamic project come to life," shared Don Wingate, Vice President of Microgrids at Schneider Electric. "We're thrilled to bear witness to the positive impact of this one-of-a-kind microgrid on the critical care facilities that support families in crisis as it reduces the energy costs for the entire campus community."

The innovative technology was developed through the Connecticut Green Bank's Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program. The nation's first green bank offers this unique financial model that lets you pay for green improvements over time through a voluntary benefit assessment on your property tax bill. C-PACE makes it easier for building owners to secure low-interest capital to fund energy improvements.

"This project exemplifies the Green Bank's vision for a 'planet protected by the love of humanity,' as the energy savings from this system allow the Daughters to enhance their mission of caring for those in need," said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank. "When I met Mother Jennifer at the first ribbon cutting five years ago, her words were a source of inspiration helping connect our work in green energy to the human impact in our communities. Congratulations to everyone who made this project happen."

Two local Connecticut companies, Ecosolar Installations and Associated Real Estate Services, have also played instrumental roles throughout the development cycle, assisting with the grant process as well as local stakeholder management. Ecosolar served as the primary construction lead, responsible for the site work, construction and electrical work associated with all aspects for the project including solar, storage, natural gas generator and controls. Both companies continue to support the project.

Citizens Energy | https://

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection |

Connecticut Green Bank | https://

Schneider Electric | https://

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