GE Assists Underground Microgrid Project in Upstate NY

December 11, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

General Electric energy manageGE Global Research and GE Energy Consulting, along with National Grid, the Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clarkson University have partnered for a microgrid research project in the Village of Potsdam, NY, near the Canadian border.

Fueled by a $1.2 million grant from the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability and a $300,000 investment from GE, the project is developing an Enhanced Microgrid Control System (eMCS) designed to be the key element in keeping the town’s electricity system up and running for several days should it become disconnected from the main power station.

The project will also help utilities, like National Grid, better leverage distributed energy resources such as solar, hydropower, and thermal, in a microgrid scenario.

GE’s development of the eMCS will be closely aligned with the specific energy needs and power resources available in and around Potsdam, with the option to include resources like 3 MW of combined heat & power generators, 2 MW of solar photovoltaic, 2 MW of energy storage and 900 kW or more of hydro-electric generation.

Notably, the initiative will augment the community’s plans to construct a new underground system for power and communications during emergency situations. This system will connect approximately twelve entities, including emergency service providers, utilities, power generation sources and staging areas, along with housing, fuel and food providers.

The partners hope that GE’s control system together with the underground microgrid envisioned for the Potsdam community could serve as a model for towns and cities across the country that are susceptible to weather disasters and blackouts.

The two-year DOE project will begin with 18 months of engineering and design at GE Global Research, followed by a 6-month testing period at NREL where a microgrid simulating the infrastructure needs in Potsdam will be set up.

Earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Potsdam underground microgrid design project.

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