New York Town Builds First Municipal Microgrid in U.S.

Potsdam, New York, a small town of 17,000, is collaborating with Clarkson University, SUNY Potsdam, National Grid (the regional electricity provider) and General Electric (which has contributed $1.5 million in federal grant funding for the project) to build the first municipal microgrid in the US. The microgrid will be capable of providing electricity to essential city services (police, fire, hospital, and EMS) and the two local universities in the event of power outages. The northeastern region of the US routinely experiences severe winter weather conditions that result in disruptions in energy service due to ice and wind.

Expected to be completed in 2017, the microgrid will generate power from four sources: natural gas, fuel oil, hydroelectric generation, and a 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic system.  “[T]he microgrid, which was first conceived as a research project in [Clarkson University’s] electrical engineering program, could become a model for municipalities across the country where power infrastructure is vulnerable to disruptions both natural and man-made, including major weather events and cyberattacks.”