Connecticut plans to launch the nation's first statewide microgrid pilot program, an initiative aimed at keeping electricity supplied to critical government services and businesses even through large-scale power outages. The program is pending Conn.'s State Bond Commission authorization, which is expected this fall.

Photo Courtesy of the Governor's Office
First Launch: Gov. Dannel Malloy recommends that the state add to the program's current funding.

Part of the state's plan to harden infrastructure against future storms, the program involves establishing small energy centers independently powered by natural gas-powered turbines, fuel cells, solar power and other energy sources. The microgrids can be connected to the region's primary grid but, should the main utility lose power, microgrids can disconnect and operate independently.

"These projects will help protect residents and vital public services even when the power goes out, and in doing so allow us to provide critical services during times of emergency," Gov. Dannel Malloy said on July 24 in announcing the program.

The program will be primarily funded with a total of $18 million from the state's Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). However, Malloy says he is recommending an additional $30 million to the program.

Conn. will set up a total of nine projects using various energy generation sources in the towns of Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham and Woodbridge.

Microgrids are stirring demand worldwide, especially in North America, according to a study from market research firm Pike Research last year.

"Microgrids are an important accelerator for various kinds of distributed power generation, particularly from renewable sources," says Peter Asmus, Pike senior research analyst and lead author of the study.