Members of the state Board of Public Utilities visited Montclair on Wednesday, Oct. 11, as the township investigates whether to install a microgrid. From left: Gray Russell, Montclair sustainability officer; Richard Mroz, BPU president; Joseph Fiordaliso, BPU commissioner; Councilor-At-Large Bob Russo; and Township Manager Timothy Stafford.
PHOTO BY ERIN ROLL/STAFF

Montclair had a visit from members of the state Board of Public Utilities Wednesday afternoon as the township investigates the prospect of installing a microgrid: a backup grid that could supply power to key buildings in the event of a widespread power failure.

The township hosted a press conference at the Montclair Fire Department headquarters, with township officials and BPU members in attendance.

Montclair received a $142,000 state grant to hire an engineering firm to conduct a feasibility study of Montclair’s infrastructure and that of several buildings, including Mountainside Hospital, Glenfield Middle School and NJ Transit’s Bay Street Station.

The speakers included BPU President Richard Mroz and Commissioner Joseph Fiordaliso, as well as Councilor-At-Large Bob Russo.

The recent hurricanes that have devastated Puerto Rico and the Caribbean highlight the need for a backup power grid. Additionally, the speakers noted that October will mark the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which knocked out power to most of Montclair for several days.

Gray Russell, the township’s sustainability officer, said that the council intends to award a contract to an engineering firm for the study on Oct. 21, with the firm being announced on the 24th. The study itself will be carried out over the next year.

-Erin Roll