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Micro grid for key buildings in East Hampton under consideration

East Hampton Town board members are considering whether to proceed to the second phase of a study on whether a community micro grid is feasible for East Hampton Town buildings that house critical services.

A presentation on the first phase – which involved deciding which buildings should be part of the grid - was presented to the board on Tuesday by Brian Levite, the senior manager for Manhattan-based Hitachi Consulting.

“We’ll discuss it and decide whether to proceed to the design and engineering phase,” Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

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

Included for consideration in the micro grid are East Hampton Village Emergency Services, the Montauk Fire Department, East Hampton Airport, Town Hall campus, East Hampton Healthcare Foundation and the Montauk Playhouse.

“In Phase Two you’re going to be looking at the economics of it,” said John Sousa-Botos, project manager and environmental technician for the town’s Natural Resources Department. He helped make the Phase One presentation to the board.

“Phase Two is a more detailed plan,” Sousa-Botos said. He said it would involve examining the business structure and including how the micro grid would work and who would own the equipment.

The study, started in November, was paid for with $100,000 from NY Prize, a three-stage competition administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to encourage community grid planning and development.

Additional funding would be sought from NYSERDA for Stage Two and for project development in Stage Three.

Syosset-based Johnson Controls and National Renewable Energy of Colorado also worked on the first phase.

Asked his thoughts on the micro grid in a Wednesday telephone interview, Councilman Peter Van Scoyoc said, “The advantages of a micro grid is you build resiliency within the system so you’re not dependent on the grid if it fails.

“We have a year round population of about 24,000 that can swell to as many as 120,000 on any given summer weekend,” Van Scoyoc said. “I’m interested but I’m waiting to hear back about questions… Clearly we have to do a financial accounting to see what costs would be shouldered by the town.”

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