Power On! Montclair Awarded $679,500 Grant for Microgrid Design Plan

MONTCLAIR, NJ – Montclair has been awarded a $679,500 grant for the Township’s Town Center Distributed Energy Resource (TCDER) Microgrid Program by the The NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) Office of Clean Energy. The grant will go toward commissioning a consulting/engineering team to create a comprehensive engineering design plan for the construction of a Montclair Microgrid. The Microgrid would provide power for several interconnected critical infrastructure buildings in the downtown area, providing public safety, security, sustainability, and resilience for the community.

This design plan is the Phase II component of NJ BPU’s Microgrid Program. In 2018 the BPU funded a grant to develop a Microgrid Feasibility Study. Montclair was awarded $142,000 for the study, which determined that the Township is a suitable location for a microgrid that could reduce energy use and costs and, importantly, could provide uninterrupted power for critical facilities during outages or disruptions. Thirteen NJ local governments and public authorities were awarded similar grants. Montclair authored an innovative and successful study, enabling the Township to apply for the Phase II grant.

Eleven of the original applicants applied for Phase II; eight were awarded grants.

“A Montclair Town Center Microgrid would provide resilient, clean and economical energy to several of our most critical infrastructure facilities,” said Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller. “At the same time, it would enhance security for our entire community during power grid disruptions.”

Proposed Microgrid locations and interconnections to keep Montclair running.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical importance of keeping the Township’s local hospital, Hackensack Meridian Mountainside Medical Center, open and operational during a crisis. The hospital serves as a health and emergency medical asset not only for Montclair but for the region and would serve as the host site of a 2 MW microgrid plant.

Two blocks away from the hospital, Montclair Fire Department Headquarters serves the Township and the neighboring Borough of Glen Ridge. It is also the site of the Township’s Emergency Management Operations Center.

“This critical facility oversees emergency operations and municipal security during times of crisis and has been a vital resource to the region during the current pandemic response,” said Montclair Sustainability Officer Gray Russell.

Adjacent to Fire Headquarters is NJ Transit’s Bay Street Train Station, providing mass transit for commuters and travelers.

Across Bloomfield Avenue is Glenfield School which could serve as a community shelter during a disaster. Just behind the school is the Montclair Water Bureau’s Glenfield Well, a local and secure source of drinking water supply for residents.

A few blocks north is the Pine Ridge Senior Living facility, capable of housing and sheltering the Township’s most vulnerable population and a limited number of non-residents during an emergency.

In light of the recent grid disruptions in Texas, NJ BPU President Joe Fiordaliso has highlighted the need for energy infrastructure upgrades in New Jersey, particularly by constructing microgrids in the state.

“A microgrid is not just a source of emergency power during outages, but also an efficient technology for reducing energy costs,” said Mr. Russell. “A Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Microgrid like the one Montclair proposes, operates more efficiently by generating electricity and then capturing the waste heat for hot water, heating, and cooling, rather than using just the regional grid, thereby providing improved reliability and increased energy efficiency.”

“As town center microgrids are developed around the state, communities will be able to keep critical facilities such as hospitals, police and fire stations, water treatment plants and buildings used to shelter residents operational, independent of the regional power grid during outages or disruptions,” said Mayor Spiller.

Click here to sign up for Baristanet's free daily emails and news alerts.