- Manufactured by Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, the fuel cells and the base fuel cell park will be financed by a public-private sector long-term power purchase agreement
- Microgrid Will Provide an “Always On” Energy Source to Maintain Critical Services Even During Storms, Blackouts, and Other Emergencies
HARTFORD, CT -- Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that his administration has approved the release of a $5 million state grant to establish a microgrid at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) in Groton in order to strengthen storm resiliency and provide energy security.
Developed in coordination with the Connecticut Microgrid Program, which was created by Governor Malloy and is administered by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), creating a microgrid will allow the base to seamlessly disconnect from the community utility grid during a power disruption and efficiently dispatch power through the on-base microgrid to mission critical loads, such as homeported submarines. The microgrid will not only transform its existing electrical system into one that is more intelligent, flexible, and robust, but will also allow automated data gathering and precise peak demand control.
“Make no mistake, climate change is having an impact on our communities, and we must take real steps now to strengthen our infrastructure, and plan for future storms and resulting power outages,” Governor Malloy said. “Our state agencies, industry leaders, and Navy officials demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to collaborating in this very complex project, producing another innovative partnership between the Navy, our state, and the communities that support the base. This effort once again highlights our resolve to preserve the SUBASE and our historic distinction as the Submarine Capital of the World.”
It is anticipated that construction on the project will begin in 2019.
“This proposal promises to enhance the resilience of important national security infrastructure in preparation for climate change, sea level rise, and severe weather events,” DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee said. “Our staff will work closely with stakeholders to ensure that the Navy’s energy and resilience objectives are met through the development of a well-planned microgrid project.”
“A microgrid on the base will enhance our power diversification, our physical and energy security, and most certainly our community collaboration,” Captain Paul Whitescarver, Commanding Officer of SUBASE, said.
Establishing a microgrid at the base will correct a major concern that was identified during the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process in 2005. Connecticut’s Office of Military Affairs (OMA) first proposed a SUBASE microgrid in 2010, but the technical complexity of the project and the need for senior Navy endorsement slowed the idea’s momentum.
In 2012, Governor Malloy met with then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at the Pentagon and enlisted his personal support, staff expertise, and legal authority to advance the project. Secretary Mabus sent staff delegations to Connecticut to collaborate with project stakeholders.
In 2015, the State Bond Commission authorized OMA to provide funding to the Navy for early design of the microgrid.
As design work advanced, the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative entered into an enhanced use lease agreement with the Navy for property on the SUBASE to host a fuel cell park. Groundbreaking for the fuel cell park took place earlier this year. Manufactured by Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, the fuel cells and the base fuel cell park will be financed by a public-private sector long-term power purchase agreement. In normal operations, energy produced by these continuously generating fuel cells will be sold to the community grid. In the event of a community grid disruption, the islanded microgrid will divert uninterrupted electric power to the base for critical operations.
The State of Connecticut was the first state to pioneer a process to make direct investments into a federal military installation so as to improve infrastructure and enhance military value, helping improve the facility’s relative standing in the next BRAC round, which is widely expected to happen as early as 2021.
Connecticut’s Microgrid Program was developed in 2012 in response to the recommendation of Governor Malloy’s Two Storm Panel after multiple storms resulted widespread outages of long duration. DEEP conducted competitive solicitations in 2013 and 2014 and received applications on a rolling basis from 2015 to 2017. To date, the agency has issued $18.4 million in grants for ten projects throughout Connecticut, nine of which are operational while one is under construction. A list of proposals and projects funded can be found on the Connecticut Microgrid Program website.