Sandy Prompts NJ Microgrid Project

US Dept EnergyThe Energy Department is to partner with the State of New Jersey, NJ Transit and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to assess NJ Transit’s energy needs and help develop a conceptual design of an advanced microgrid system.

The project, which is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to provide support to communities affected by Superstorm Sandy, will see Sandia National Laboratories assist NJ Transit in its efforts to enhance the reliability and resiliency of electricity used for its rail and system operations.

According to the Energy Department, the NJ Transit system is a critical transportation corridor and evacuation route for Manhattan. Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters have exposed the vulnerability of the transit system to power outages. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie described the project, which is named NJ TransitGrid, as critical for New Jersey’s economy and emergency and evacuation-related activities.

The Energy Department and Sandia National Laboratories will work with NJ Transit and the Board of Public Utilities to design a dynamic microgrid to power the transit system between Newark and Jersey City and Hoboken as well as critical stations and maintenance facilities. This project will make it easier to get the power back on after a major disaster – and it will also help improve public safety throughout the region.

Sandia National Laboratories has already designed advanced microgrids that are up and running at more than 20 military bases across the country. This partnership will utilize a quantitative risk-based assessment tool, entitled the Energy Surety Design Methodology, that was developed at Sandia National Laboratories and allows communities to evaluate their regional energy needs, identify advanced solutions to improve the reliability and resiliency of their electric grids, and understand the most cost-effective strategies for system upgrades.

At the core of this methodology is the use of advanced smart grid technologies and the integration of distributed energy resources such as backup generators, wind generation, photovoltaics, and storage. Previous applications of the ESDM have shown enhanced reliability and resiliency, improved integration of renewable and distributed energy, and cost-effectiveness.

In the wake of Sandy, New Jersey-based Public Service Electric and Gas Company proposed plans to invest $3.9 billion during the next 10 years to proactively protect and strengthen its electric and gas systems against increasingly frequent severe weather.

In a February filing with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, PSE&G asked for initial funding approval of $2.6 billion during the first five years. Since some of the improvements will take more than five years to implement, the utility may seek approval to spend an additional $1.3 billion in the following five years to complete the program.

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