By Ethan Howland
Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy are building a microgrid for a caregiving facility in New Britain, Connecticut, under a partnership they expect will lead to additional microgrid projects.
The Marian Heights microgrid will provide grid resiliency for four buildings on the campus of the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception that provide critical services to about 350 residents, hospital patients and homeless people as well as the surrounding community.
New Britain designated the Marian Heights critical facility an official emergency shelter for the municipality.
The microgrid, set to be operating by the end of the year, will include 705-kW of existing solar and four new 100-kW/255-kWh lithium-ion batteries. It will also have a new natural gas backup generator to go with an existing diesel generator.
Schneider Electric designed, engineered and is building the roughly $4.5 million project, which includes microgrid protection control and optimization, electrical equipment, distributed energy resource management, electrical design services, cybersecurity and network design. The project will use Schneider Electric’s microgrid control system.
Citizens Energy, a Boston-based nonprofit focused on developing renewable energy and transmission projects for low-income communities, is funding the project using the energy-as-a-service business model, sparing the Daughters of Mary from paying upfront costs for the project.
Separate power purchase agreements will help pay for the microgrid.
Citizens Energy eyes more microgrid projects
The Marian Heights project is Citizens Energy’s first microgrid project, but the company is developing at least four other projects through its microgrids and storage business.
Founded in 1979 by former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, Citizens Energy said it started its microgrid business to increase communities’ capacities to meet peak energy demands with green power, while hardening and strengthening the distributed energy system.
“Schneider Electric is looking forward to working with Citizens Energy on the deployment of the microgrid not only to address the needs of the Daughters of Mary facilities, but in the many future projects that follow,” said Mark Feasel, Schneider Electric’s North American president for smart grid.
Project receives state grant
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection awarded the project a $3.9 million grant through the agency’s microgrid program for critical facilities.
The award was part of the program’s most recent funding round. The department also awarded $4 million for a microgrid in Coventry, Connecticut, and $5.2 million for one at the New London submarine base.
Connecticut started the microgrid grant program, the first in the nation, after the state was hit by severe storms in 2011. The program funds projects for critical facilities such as hospitals, police stations, water treatment plants and municipal centers.
Connecticut continues to face severe weather. In August 2020, tropical storm Isaias hit the state, causing about 800,000 power outages, with some lasting for about a week.