When Your Campus Microgrid Works So Well No One Notices

By Microgrid Resources Coalition posted 08-06-2019 11:01


Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge


You know you’ve done something right when your new campus microgrid islands so seamlessly that you don’t even know it happened.

That’s what occurred in February, in response to a communications glitch, at Montclair State University (MSU), the second largest university in New Jersey with 23,000 students.

MSU’s system includes a 5.4-MW natural-gas fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant, plus 5.3 MW of natural gas backup. It receives communications about the local utility’s status through phone lines.

But Public Service Gas & Electric’s (PSG&E) phone lines went down on a cold day when the campus was full of students, only a little more than a month after the microgrid started up in January.

When the phones went out, and the microgrid controls couldn’t “see” that utility power was available, the microgrid “divorced” from the utility automatically — even though the utility hadn’t lost power — and went into island mode, serving the entire campus for nine hours, said Shawn Connolly, vice president for university facilities..

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