Schneider Electric joined Citizens Energy and the Mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, to dedicate a new microgrid for the Daughters of Mary campus. The project transforms the 137-acre campus into a renewable energy hub, using green energy to power four standalone buildings and reduce energy costs for the organization. The $7 million project ensures that the critical institution will be able to provide much-needed social services and senior care through emergencies that threaten the local electric grid.
The project was named in honor of the late Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll, who first led the order down the path of sustainable energy development. The first installation, a solar array, was completed five years ago and is now a key component of the campus microgrid to serve its senior living facilities.
“We, the Daughters of Mary, are so proud and pleased to play a role in such an important and viable environmental issue,” said Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk. “We are grateful to Mother Mary Jennifer for her vision and foresight to pioneer into unchartered territory and achieve such innovative and financial success. We also wish to thank her ‘silent partner,’ Karen Kulak, for her due diligence in pursuing this unique battery concept and working alongside of Mother Jennifer, during and after, to see it to completion.”
The innovative design combines 1.4 MWh of battery storage capacity with a total of 1.2 MW of solar generation to create a completely self-sufficient system. This unique technology utilizes funding provided by a grant from the State of Connecticut administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in the amount of $3.9 million, the largest-of-its-kind for microgrid development to be completed. The project is also the state’s first microgrid capable of operating on 100% renewable energy around the clock in island mode.
“I applaud the pioneering vision of the Daughters of Mary to continue innovating the energy system on their campus,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “This advanced microgrid is the first in Connecticut to combine solar panels and battery storage to provide an extra layer of resilience for up to 19 days of continuous power to ensure that the important care and services the Daughters of Mary provide can continue during a power outage.”
This technology is essentially four individual microgrids that deploy groundbreaking engineering work to allow the individual systems to remain grid-tied, island independently or share electrons and island together as one larger microgrid. The installation also includes a 250-kW natural gas generator for emergency use. This solution is also Citizens Energy’s first project with its strategic alliance partner, Schneider Electric.
The innovative technology was developed through the Connecticut Green Bank’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program. The nation’s first green bank offers this unique financial model that lets you pay for green improvements over time through a voluntary benefit assessment on your property tax bill. C-PACE makes it easier for building owners to secure low-interest capital to fund energy improvements.
Two local Connecticut companies, Ecosolar Installations and Associated Real Estate Services, have also played instrumental roles throughout the development cycle, assisting with the grant process as well as local stakeholder management. Ecosolar served as the primary construction lead, responsible for the site work, construction and electrical work associated with all aspects for the project including solar, storage, natural gas generator and controls. Both companies continue to support the project.
News item from Schneider Electric