The University of Hartford was one of nine organizations and municipalities in Connecticut that were approved by the state for funding of a microgrid project that is part of the state's plan to better prepare for destructive storms. The University will receive $2.3 million that will be used to connect the entire campus’ electrical system to the emergency diesel generators that are located alongside East Hall.
Currently the Village apartments, Regents Park, and Park River student residence halls and the Konover Campus Center are not connected to the emergency generators, meaning more than half of the University’s student residents could be without power in the event of a widespread outage. (All other residence halls, the Sports Center, University Commons, Lincoln Theater, and the academic side of campus are already connected to the emergency generators.)
The University hopes to begin work on this project in the fall and have it completed by late spring 2014, said Norm Young, associate vice president for Facilities planning and management at the University. This project will allow the university to continue normal operations, full residential occupancy, and sheltering capabilities for the community even if, or more likely when, extended power outages occur in the area.
Overall, Connecticut officials on Wednesday, July 24, approved nine microgrid projects for $18 million in funding out of the 36 microgrid projects submitted to the state.
"[This] marks another step forward for how we handle extreme weather," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in an announcement of the grants, noting Connecticut is the first state in the nation to undertake a broad microgrid program of this kind.
The nine projects are spread across the state in Mansfield, Bridgeport, Middletown, Hartford (2), Groton, Windham, Woodbridge and Fairfield. Three of the nine are at universities: the University of Connecticut, the University of Hartford, and Wesleyan University. In the event of a widespread power outage, the systems are set up to continue delivering power to critical facilities including police stations, supermarkets, dormitories, city halls, senior centers, fire departments, gas stations, cell towers and shelters.
This microgrid project at the University of Hartford extends the back-up electrical power coverage provided by the diesel generators, which were installed at the University in 2007. In addition to providing emergency power, those generators have allowed the University to operate independently from the region’s main electrical power grid if necessary. For example, in times of extreme heat, Northeast Utilities has asked the University to power up its emergency generators and take itself off the grid in order to increase capacity to the main electrical power grid during peak demand times.