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Solar panels near Monsignor Bojnowski Manor at Daughters of Mary campus.

Schneider Electric, Citizens Energy plan campus microgrid in CT

April 30, 2021
The partners announced the start of construction of their first joint resiliency project to deploy an advanced microgrid to serve 4 critical facilities on the campus of The Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception in New Britain, Connecticut.

Schneider Electric, a global expert in the digital transformation of energy management and automation technology, and Citizens Energy Corporation, a Boston-based non-profit energy company, on Apr. 27 announced the start of construction of the partners' first joint resiliency project to deploy an advanced microgrid to serve four critical facilities on the campus of The Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception in New Britain, Connecticut.

As stated by the partners, the completed microgrid will help ensure more reliable and efficient power and improve resiliency for Daughters of Mary facilities following major storms and other natural disasters, enabling uninterrupted electric services to critical infrastructure during emergencies.

Often called "island mode operation," this functionality allows the necessary facilities to intentionally, or automatically, separate from the electric grid and continue to operate at, or near, normal capacity for extended periods during power outages.

Fostering financial and environmental sustainability

The partners say the advanced microgrid to be constructed includes technologies to enable predictive management and optimization of energy usage during grid connected and island modes, fostering financial and environmental sustainability driven by:

Leveraging existing solar infrastructure -- Building off of previously constructed solar technology on the campus, this microgrid will produce approximately 545 thousand kilowatt hours of additional solar energy each year, equivalent to powering about 45 average homes a year.

Reducing the carbon footprint -- Combined with the 1.3-million-kilowatt hours of lithium-ion battery energy storage, the on-site power generation is anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1,300 metric tons each year, as much as taking 280 cars off the road.

Innovative partnerships for community success

“Schneider Electric is looking forward to working with Citizens Energy on the deployment of the microgrid not only to address the needs of the Daughters of Mary facilities, but in the many future projects that follow,” said Mark Feasel, Schneider Electric’s North American President for Smart Grid. “We appreciate Citizens Energy’s vision, passion and the trust they have put in us as their microgrid technology partner.”

Through this innovative partnership, Citizens Energy Corporation is on board to complete the advanced microgrid, including power system upgrades and advanced controls, as well as provide significant utility cost savings.

Citizens Energy Corporation is funding and developing the microgrid using the Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) business model allowing construction to be completed without any up-front costs to the Daughters of Mary. Separate power purchase agreements help pay for the microgrid through lower cost and clean energy generation, added a statement.

The Project has also been awarded a State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) Microgrid Design & Installation Grant for Critical Facilities, that will help offset the overall project costs, said the partners.

“We are excited to work with Schneider Electric and applaud the vision of the Daughters of Mary to solve their resiliency and energy needs,” commented Citizens Energy CEO Pete Smith. “This is our first microgrid project, but it fits remarkably well with our mission to provide much-needed energy assistance to low-income families and those in need.”

Smith noted, "Rather than the customer purchasing the microgrid system outright, Citizens Energy is able to develop, finance, own, operate and maintain the system. Meanwhile, the customer, in this case the Daughters of Mary, purchases the electricity and pays for the system via an Energy Service Agreement with no upfront or operating costs."

Project implementation notes

Schneider Electric is playing a comprehensive role in designing, engineering and implementing the project, including the areas of microgrid protection control and optimization, electrical equipment, distributed energy resource (DER) management, electrical design services, cybersecurity and network design.

The statement noted that two local Connecticut companies, Ecosolar Installations and Associated Real Estate Services, also played instrumental roles throughout the development cycle, assisting with the grant process as well as local stakeholder management. Both firms continue to support the project with Ecosolar serving as the primary construction lead, responsible for the site work, construction and electrical work associated with all aspects for the project including solar, storage, natural gas generator and controls.

The advanced microgrid will become fully operational by the end of 2021.

For more information about Schneider Electric's microgrid solutions, visit www.schneider-electric.us/microgrid.

For more information about Citizens Energy Corporation’s renewable energy projects and programs, visit www.citizensenergy.com/.

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