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State's utility board approves $2 million to study microgrid power plan

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The state's Board of Public Utilities approved $2 million to fund 13 feasibility studies for a new micro-power grids that would power and connect Camden County's wastewater treatment plant to the Covanta Camden Energy Recovery Center, a waste-to-energy facility.

Among the areas that the study will be conducted for are Atlantic City, Camden County, Cape May County, Galloway Township, Highland Park, Hoboken, Hudson County, Middletown Township, Montclair Township, Neptune Township, the city of Paterson and Woodbridge Township.

Ultimately, the new microgrids will allow the two facilities to exchange electrical and thermal energy under normal conditions and during emergencies, such as strong storm conditions.

The results of the studies could lead to RFPs being issued for construction companies to build the microgrids by the towns or municipalities that would be affected. The cost of the microgrids will be determined as part of the studies, but is expected to exceed $50 million.

“Part of the feasibility study is to determine the development, construction and operational cost, the value of the benefits and overall size of each project to determine how to proceed with next steps,” a BPU spokesperson said in a prepared statement.

The use of treated wastewater by Covanta will allow the company to reduce its use of potable water and reduce stress on the local aquifer system.

“The BPU sponsored microgrid project between Covanta and CCMUA will be an exceptional model of public/private collaboration and sustainability that will increase efficiency and resiliency for critical utility infrastructure,” Richard Sandner, general manager of Covanta’s New York/New Jersey region, said in a press release. “We sincerely appreciate the help and support of the Board of Public Utilities, the NJ Department of Environmental Protection and the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust.”

“We learned in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy that wastewater treatment plants are extremely vulnerable to severe weather events and power outages, which is why having an independent power source is so critical,” Andy Kricun, executive director/chief engineer, CCMU, said in an announcement.

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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