A study is underway that could lead to a self-contained electrical grid on the central municipal campus that will lower town government electric bills and safeguard emergency services.
The town’s $75,000 microgrid feasibility and evaluation study – one of the first, if not the first in the commonwealth — is funded through the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Clean Energy and Resiliency (CLEAR) program.
Facilities Director Taissir Alani explained that the microgrid would hard-wire the police and fire stations, Town Hall, Town Center, and the high school.
The electricity during the day would come from renewables like solar and wind; at night, when the utilities’ “demand” charge is significantly lower, the power would be supplied through the regular power grid.
Housing for the microgrid control center and batteries for electricity storage would likely take only a few parking spaces on the north side of the high school, Alani said.
The director explained that the arrangement is important for security. During a major power outage, he said, even backup generators could fail. But the microgrid would ensure continuing power to key buildings—public safety, shelters in the high school and Town Center, and Town Hall, the location for information technology equipment.
Alani pointed out that the microgrid also reduces emissions because of its primary reliance on renewable energy sources.
The current study will analyze the economic and financial impacts of a microgrid project and develop a high-level system design. The project is headed by GE Energy Consulting and its consultant, Nexant. The study is scheduled to be complete in December.
According to MassCEC, “The CLEAR program is intended to aid communities in identifying and pursuing specific investment plans that will enable critical loads to ‘ride through’ interruptions in grid service.”
Alani pointed out that the MassCEC feasibility study could “set the infrastructure for us to build on if Bedford decides to pursue solar and storage batteries in the future.”
He noted that, under the six-year capital program, school roofs will be reconfigured to accommodate solar panels. Under a state program that features financial incentives for solar-plus-storage, “we can integrate the storage batteries with the solar program under the same 20-year power purchase agreement. The vendor would furnish, install, and maintain the solar and batteries. The Town would receive some revenues under the agreement.”
Mike Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 781-983-1763