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Montclair will be receiving $142,500 from the state to do a microgrid feasibility study, part of a total of $2.1 million that will be handed out to 13 town centers.

The N.J. Board of Public Utilities announced earlier this week that is was funding the studies in order to help achieve the state Energy Master Plan’s goal of improving energy resiliency, as well as to increase the use of so-called Distributed Energy Resources, or DER, microgrid technology.

The BPU originally set up a Town Center DER microgrid feasibility program with a $1 million budget, according to a press release from the agency. But on June 30, after receiving 13 applications for proposed microgrids and their potential benefits, the BPU approved a budget amendment to fund all 13 applications for a total of $2.1 million, the release said.

In addition to Montclair, the grant recipients are Atlantic City, Camden County, Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority, Galloway Township, Highland Park, Hoboken, Hudson County, Middletown, Neptune, Paterson, Woodbridge, and the State Department of Treasury with the partners Mercer County, Mercer County Improvement Authority and Trenton.

Montclair submitted an application for the township Town Center Microgrid, with its core partners including the Montclair School District, United Methodist Communities, NJ Transit and Hackensack UMC — Mountainside Hospital, according to the BPU press release.

The project’s facilities include the Township Fire Department Headquarters, Glenfield Middle School, Pine Ridge Senior Living housing, Mountainside Hospital and the NJ Transit Bay Street train station and garage, the press release said. In addition, several other public building and private-sector businesses were identified as potential sites.

The study will evaluate roughly 2.3 megawatts of “new-power capacity, which may include solar and dispatchable generation such as combined heat and power battery storage and other new electric infrastructure to allow the proposed project to operate during normal and emergency conditions,” the press release said.

Additionally, Montclair will evaluate both Siemens SICAM and Johnson Controls Grid Connect microgrid control/communications systems, according to the release.

Montclair, with a total incentive grant of $142,500, has an estimated time frame of 11 months to complete its study, the press release said.

Following Superstorm Sandy, the Christie Administration made it a priority to improve energy
resiliency and the emergency-preparedness and response of utility companies, the press release said.

So in a 2015 update, the state’s Energy Master Plan included a new section on improving utility infrastructure resiliency, which supports the establishment of energy resources such as microgrids to improve the grid’s resiliency and reliability in the event of a major emergency.

That update also directed the BPU “to continue its work with the utility companies, local, state and federal governments, and other strategic partners to identify, design and implement Town Center DER microgrids to power critical facilities and services across the state,” according to the press release.

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