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Mar 15, 2016 2:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Microgrid Could Protect Critical East Hampton Facilities From Power Losses

Mar 15, 2016 3:05 PM

East Hampton Town could steel itself against power outages, reduce carbon emissions and save “massive” amounts of money over the next 20 years by investing in independent energy-generating islands, known as microgrids, at some of its key emergency facilities, the town was told by consultants who conducted a state-funded feasibility study this past winter.

By using a combination of natural gas burning generators, solar panels and battery storage systems, the town could make some town- and village-owned buildings vastly more energy efficient while also improving resiliency in the event of widespread power outages and reducing the environmental footprint of the town.

Town Hall, the police department headquarters, the village’s Emergency Services Building and Montauk Fire Department headquarters were all among the critical facilities the consultants said could be hooked up to their own microgrids.

Some smaller town buildings could run on solar power alone, while larger facilities would employ a combination of solar panels and natural gas generators to generate power and battery units to store it, which would also allow the generators to run more efficiently, the Hitachi consultants said.

The whole package would cost approximately $7.1 million to get up and running at the half-dozen municipal sites considered, though grant funding from a variety of state programs intended to incentivize the expansion of renewable energy sources would likely bring down the cost substantially.

Supervisor Larry Cantwell noted that as part of plans to build new town offices on the site of the old Town Hall building, the town has been exploring the need to install emergency backup generators at the site and other town buildings.

Hitachi rep Brian Levite said that while police stations may still want emergency backup generators, a microgrid system would offer most buildings near-100 percent protection against power losses.

The study was paid for through a grant the town was awarded by state renewable energy initiatives. It was one of a handful of microgrid feasibility studies being conducted in Southampton and East Hampton Town, looking at critical public facilities and residential neighborhoods, with an eye to increasing storm resiliency and reducing carbon emissions.

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