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$18 Million Awarded For Energy Upgrades & Microgrids In Massachusetts

Thirteen projects across the state of Massachusetts have been awarded $18 million to strengthen energy supplies. Microgrids, battery storage, and heat are several of the kinds of projects that will be enhanced.


$3 million was granted to Northampton for a microgrid to serve three emergency centers at a hospital, a school, and the department of public works. Battery storage and renewable energy will be integrated into the new microgrid.

A microgrid, among other things, is a way of transmitting electricity at a local level as a backup to the main grid. (It’s basically what it sounds like — a small electricity grid.) Of course, it’s prudent to have auxiliary power sources onsite at emergency centers because they may be at their highest level of need when there is a natural disaster such as a catastrophic storm when power lines will likely be compromised or destroyed.

Backup electricity can save lives by maintaining refrigeration for food and medicine while keeping heaters operating as well. In other words, solar power, battery storage and microgrids are not just “nice” or “green” things to install and utilize, they can provide critical services when they are most needed.

The fire department headquarters for the city of Holyoke will get a new solar power system with 53 kW of capacity. A 300 kWh battery system will store electricity as well. This kind of measure is also practically minded, because in the event of a power loss, surely emergency personnel would function much better in taking care of a community if they can maintain power by having a backup system.

The city will also have solar panels and a wind turbine dedicated to providing electricity for its main communication tower. A battery system will also be installed, so together the renewable energy and storage is expected to have the capacity to power the tower
for three days without any outside assistance.

If SuperStorm Sandy came to your mind when you were reading about some of these upgrades, you were right in line with the thinking behind the funding effort. Millions went without power during the aftermath, so creating viable backup systems shows
good judgement and planning for future disruptions.

Climate change might increase both the severity and frequency of such storms. Massachusetts is a solar power leader, so it might fare better than if it had not invested in solar power when huge storms strike. The state also has some hydropower.

Image: terageorge, Wiki Commons

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