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Microgrid project proposed to power town services during storms

Updated 12:12 pm, Thursday, January 3, 2013
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The panel unanimously approved a request from Assistant Public Works Director Ed Boman to submit a grant application to the state for the microgrids, which would keep facilities like the sewage-treatment plant, town garages, Police and Fire departments up and running during a major storm.

Boman said the town will know by Feb. 23 if it has been selected for the program, and if it is, the microgrids would have to be operational within a year.

"The goal is on-site generating equipment for critical facilities," Boman said, "to provide all electrical needs when United Illuminating is providing no service."

This would be done through a combination of diesel generators, photovoltaic systems and fuel cells. The microgrids would be privately owned and operated by another company, so the town would not have to pay any capital costs. The town would then be sold the power at a lower rate.

The only exception would be the generator at the sewage-treatment plant, which would use the methane gas produced there for fuel. "The town would rather try and develop that one," Boman said. "It's basically a diesel engine."

"I'm thrilled about it," Selectman Cristin McCarthy Vahey said, and asked if the proposals will meet the current demand.

Boman said it is designed to meet 120 percent of future demand. "It may get to the point where we're running all on our own all the time."

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