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13 Long Island communities get state microgrid grants

Thirteen Long Island towns, villages and a city will each receive $100,000 in state grants to study the feasibility of building mini-electric grids that would allow essential services to keep running in the event of a power outage.

Each of the municipalities submitted proposals for building microgrids in response to a competition called NY Prize. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's office announced the 83 winners across the state, including the projects on Long Island, Wednesday.

The award winners on Long Island are the City of Long Beach, the villages of Babylon, East Rockaway, Freeport, Greenport, Port Jefferson, and Rockville Centre, and the towns of Brookhaven, East Hampton, Hempstead, Huntington, Southampton and North Hempstead. East Hampton won for two separate projects.

The $100,000 would go to engineering studies to make certain plans measure up to standards for stand-alone microgrids, which operate independently when power from the LIPA grid is unavailable. The state has set aside $40 million to conduct the three-stage plans, a part of which will be awarded to a narrower set of proposals to actually build the microgrids. Municipalities would have to match the grants, and probably invest additional funds to complete the projects.

PSEG Long Island will work with the municipalities to complete the studies. "Properly designed microgrids have the potential to enhance the reliability and resiliency of the system," PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said, adding the utility was committed to working with the local award recipients in their feasibility studies.

Most of the projects rely on a range of renewable power sources, including solar and large battery storage units, to supply power when the main grid is down. Each also can provide power to help offset the municipalities' electric needs when there's not an emergency.

Long Beach, for instance, is proposing a microgrid that would include a combined heat and power generator, a fuel cell, solar and an energy storage unit, along with measures to reduce electric demand. It would power City Hall, police and fire headquarters, water treatment plants, and affordable housing units.

Brookhaven's plan would provide power to Town Hall to allow it to operate as an emergency operations center while providing electricity for two adjacent Sachem schools to operate as emergency shelters. The microgrid would use solar power, fuel cells, battery storage and microturbines powered by an on-site wastewater treatment plant.

In East Hampton's proposal, solar power arrays would provide about half the needed energy, supplemented with a 25- megawatt energy storage system to power two water pumping and filtration plants and the Springs Fire District facility. A separate town proposal would use solar, wind power and batteries to energize Town Hall, police, emergency services, a court, telephone utility, two fire departments and two schools.


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