As officials seek to refine the draft 2012 Connecticut Comprehensive Energy Strategy, the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced the first phase of a microgrid pilot program that figures to play a prominent role in the state’s long-term energy plan.
The first step toward achieving a more competitive, reliable and efficient energy market is instituting a statewide policy, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at an Oct. 5 event hosted by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association in Cromwell.
“We have a new department (DEEP), it’s well-led, a good team of people,” Malloy said. “We’re shaping long-term policy along the important issues of reliability, how clean we can be and what’s a cost-effective price point.”
A series of five public hearings on the draft energy strategy, which was initially released Oct. 5, begins Nov. 14 at Bridgeport City Hall, with technical meetings to be held from Nov. 14 to Nov. 28 at DEEP’s New Britain office.
The hearings conclude after the Thanksgiving holiday, at which point DEEP will evaluate all public comments and make adjustments to the draft strategy, said Jessie Stratton, DEEP director of policy.
“We anticipate we will have a very, very busy end to the year revising the draft policy to reflect public input and comments,” Stratton said.
She said the widespread outages caused by Hurricane Sandy and exacerbated by the state’s aging grid infrastructure add greater urgency to the state’s energy planning efforts.
The draft strategy recommends that the state move away from subsidizing specific technologies or companies in favor of a more flexible financing model that would encourage public-private partnership.
The draft strategy goes on to state that emphasis should be placed “not on picking ‘winners’ but on using limited government resources to leverage private capital and increase the flow of funds into energy efficiency, renewable power, natural gas availability, and a 21st century transportation infrastructure.”
In one such example, DEEP released a request for proposals for the first phase of its Microgrid Grant and Loan Pilot Program Nov. 5.
The request seeks ideas for small-scale generation sources that could be developed by the private sector capable of distributing electricity to critical facilities located within a specific municipality or radius in the event of a power failure.
The goal of the pilot program is to have the “development of targeted microgrids around the state where you would have a distributed generation source that could be isolated from the grid,” Stratton said. “Not that those would be in every community and they’re not cheap to build, but with enough of those around the state you could mitigate the human hardship of these extended power outages.”
The department has been allocated $15 million to support the first phase of the microgrid program, with proposals due to DEEP by Jan. 3, 2013.