The state is teaming with the federal government to design a localized electric grid for NJ Transit, a move aimed at ensuring its busy rail network stays up and running during the next Hurricane Sandy or emergency.
The so-called microgrid would seek to make the transit infrastructure more self-reliant when the wider grid is compromised, under plans announced today by the U.S. Energy Department, NJ Transit and the state Board of Public Utilities. The agencies are partnering for a study of the rail system's energy needs and the development of a "conceptual design" for the grid, which would power the network around Newark, Secaucus and Hoboken, along with critical stations and maintenance facilities.
To aid the effort, the department will tap Sandia National Laboratories, an affiliated research company that has designed microgrids for more than 20 military bases nationwide, according to a news release. Such a system could include components such as self-generation power facilities and renewable energy sources, which could distribute power to places like NJ Transit's overhead wire network.
The federal government is providing $1 million for the initial assessment and design of what's known as NJ TransitGrid, an NJ Transit spokesman said. In a prepared statement, Gov. Chris Christie the microgrid could help keep the agency's commuter trains running during a natural disaster, but also make it likelier they can be used in an emergency that requires an evacuation.
The partnership was unveiled today during a news conference in Secaucus and will come under a broader federal program aimed at boosting the resiliency of the nation's power grids.