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East Hampton micro grid study nears end of first phase

Rooftop solar panels are visible at the East

Rooftop solar panels are visible at the East Hampton Village Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street in East Hampton on Jan. 15, 2016. Officials are looking at the possibility of building a micro grid to power the building and other necessary services in the area in the event of outages to the main electric grid. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

The first phase of a study on whether a community micro grid is feasible for East Hampton Town buildings that house critical services is expected to be completed next month.

Micro grids are local energy networks that can separate from the larger electrical grid and generate their own power in case of electric grid outages and other emergencies.

“A community micro grid in East Hampton would keep critical services going in the event of a power outage during a severe storm or other emergency while also saving us energy and money during normal operation,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said.

Facilities under consideration are the East Hampton Airport, East Hampton Village Emergency Services, East Hampton High School, Town Hall Campus, East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, the Montauk Fire Department and the Montauk Playhouse.

The police and fire departments are based at the Emergency Services building, which also serves East Hampton Town.

“It’s really exciting,” said John Sousa-Botos, project manager and environmental technician for the town’s Natural Resources Department. “It’s another example of the town tackling climate change and making the town more resilient.”

A consortium of three national firms led by Hitachi Consulting is evaluating various options, and its report is expected to be completed in February. The other companies are Johnson Controls and the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The consortium’s findings are expected to show which critical facilities can be included in the micro grid areas, along with estimated cost, energy savings and other benefits.

Work on the study started in November. It is being funded with a $100,000 award through NY Prize, a three-stage competition administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to support community grid planning and development.

The feasibility study is the first stage. Audit-grade engineering design and business planning is to be completed in stage two, and project development in stage three.

“If the study shows that building such a resilient, clean and smart energy system makes sense for the town, we can apply for additional state grants to pursue this further,” Councilwoman Sylvia Overby said.

John Westerman, vice president of Hitachi Microgrid Solutions, said that maintaining the electricity supply in power outages is critical to a community’s safety and resilience.

“Micro grids allow that goal to be achieved while also reducing harmful emissions, usually at a reduced cost to end users,” he said.

Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island and chairman of the town’s Energy Sustainability Committee, said designing the community micro grid is a “unique opportunity.”

“This is really exciting because we are building the energy system of the future right here in East Hampton,” he said.

Plenty of options

Other ways to supply power to a micro grid and provide electricity to critical facilities:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Energy storage
  • Combined heat and power generators


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