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Middletown Completes Microgrid Feasibility Study

Middletown Township announced the completion of its Microgrid Feasibility Study.

In the aftermath of various storms, including Superstorm Sandy in 2011, the 2015 New Jersey Energy Master Plan Update recommended the increase use of mircrogrids and distributed energy resources. In 2018, Middletown was one 13 towns selected by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for a grant to conduct a microgrid feasibility study.

Critical infrastructures in the feasibility study include Naval Weapons Station Earle, Municipal Complex, Middletown Municipal Complex, Township of Middletown Sewage Authority, Middletown Public Works and CNG Fueling Facilities, public schools, Monmouth County Highway Department, Middletown Fire Stations 3, 4 and 7, Monmouth County Bayshore Outfall Authority, State Route 35, 36 and Leonardo Road traffic signals, and NY Waterways ferry terminal.

At the final community outreach meeting on Feb. 13, 2019, Middletown shared the findings and conclusions of the feasibility study.

Among the slides presented is the “Benefit to Cost Ratios” for the public schools. The slide showed that the ratios are all above 1.00 with the four middle and high schools to be above a ratio of 3.00 (i.e., a benefit of more than $3 for every $1 spent) and the elementary schools are all at around 2.00 (i.e., a benefit of $2 for every $1 spent).

Included in the presentation was David Soares from Lexden Capital, LLC who spoke briefly about financing options and the possibility of pursuing a microgrid project through a public-private partnership (P3 Model).

Minimal System Investment by JCP&L

Of particular note is slide 14 of the presentation that summarized “Data Collection Challenges and Opportunities" (see picture below). Specifically, the consultant indicated that, based on conversations with JCP&L personnel, there was “minimal investment made in upgrade to any circuits over the past 7 years”.

This is not a surprise to our readers. Under cross examination at the 2017 hearing for JCP&L’s 230 kV transmission line project (the Monmouth County Reliability Project or MCRP), JCP&L’s witness admitted under cross examination that they don’t have a budget for upgrade or replacement of the distribution system except for replacement or repair when things stopped working.

To rub salt in the wound, JCP&L was found to have overcharged their customers by possibly as much as $1 billion while making minimal investments to the distribution system. See link below for a more detailed discussion on this.

Community Microgrid

Due to concern about the distribution system, one of the alternatives considered is a “community microgrid”. What this means is that, instead of a centralized source of power for the whole town, a set or series of power generation (and storage) would be sited locally at the critical infrastructures previously identified.

Next Steps

So, what’s next? The report was completed and delivered in December 2018. Data, as with other feasibility studies being conducted, was provided the Rutgers University as part of the BPU review in January 2019. The BPU will review the report and the findings through March 2019. There is some possible limited funding from the BPU for detailed funding. Concurrent with that, the Township could explore the possibility of independent public/private partnership investment.

Please click on the link to see the full slide presentation.

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