Backup Power Expands To Depot Campus
Published: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, September 8, 2013 23:09
Funding for the expansion of UConn’s backup power generation facilities is arriving in Storrs as the university plans to expand the campus’ self-sufficient power generation capabilities to the Depot Campus by 2014.
The $2.14 million in funding from the state for an eco-friendly microgrid was approved last year by the state legislature and signed into law by the governor in July 2012. The legislation provides for the creation of a new fuel cell and accompanying solar array – expected to be operational by June 2014, providing power to the Depot Campus in emergency situations.
“This project will enhance UConn’s preparedness and ability to serve the community in storm-related emergencies,” UConn President Susan Herbst said in a July press release. “It will also help UConn serve as a resource for others on how to create resilient, reliable and environmentally sustainable microgrids.”
UConn’s Storrs campus already completed a new fuel cell in 2012 before the state decided to allocate the funds. The first fuel cell was just one step in UConn’s push to become carbon-neutral by 2050, according to the university’s climate action plan presented in August 2009.
In addition, the university also provides power to the Storrs campus using the co-generation plant, which began operating in 2006. It currently supplies enough energy for UConn to “meet its own energy needs at the main campus,” according to the UConn Office of Environmental Policy’s website.
The microgrid in Storrs is one of nine new systems being launched across the state as part of a first-in-the-nation pilot program to test the efficacy of localized power in emergency situations.
“Microgrids play a major role in our efforts to modernize and harden our infrastructure to withstand severe weather,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy in the same July press release.
“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.”
Mansfield Town Manager Matthew Hart said in the July press release that he believed the microgrid would be a “reliable” source of power, benefiting both the students on campus and the residents of Mansfield during power outages and other emergency situations. He also said the grid will help to provide “essential” services during these situations, adding that it was an “important” project for the town.
Other sites for the microgrids in the pilot program include Bridgeport, Fairfield, Windham, Woodbridge, the naval base in Groton, the University of Hartford and Wesleyan University in Middletown.