The hallmark of good programs is that they keep getting better. Last month, Clean Energy States Alliance awarded a State Leadership in Clean Energy (SLICE) award to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) for its groundbreaking resilient power microgrids grant and loan program. This month, CT DEEP wrapped up an information-gathering process designed to solicit stakeholder input for program revisions, and we are happy to report that several significant improvements are under consideration for Round 3 of the program, scheduled for 2015.
One major issue for municipalities, which are the intended audience for the solicitation, has been CT DEEP’s inability to provide grant funding for purchases of generation and storage equipment. This is the result of the original legislation that created the program. CT DEEP has submitted a proposed legislative amendment that would allow generation and storage to be funded, within the $3 million per-project cap. A decision on this is pending.
A number of other program revisions now under consideration do not require legislative action. These include:
- Increasing the maximum percentage of generation capacity that can be provided by existing diesel generators, if matched by increased renewable generation and storage capacity
- Reducing the number of connected buildings required to meet the state’s definition of a microgrid
- Offering high-level pre-application technical and financing assistance to municipalities on request
- Reducing the required duration of islanded operation (the current requirement is four weeks)
- Offering rolling application deadlines to allow a better fit with related incentives, such as REC auctions
- Offering a vendor list to help municipalities build project teams
It is important to note that these changes are merely under consideration; a good deal more internal discussion will need to take place before these issues are decided, and programmatic changes are made. However, we agree that it is important to listen to stakeholders, and we congratulate CT DEEP on its commitment to continual improvement.
The third round of microgrids funding in Connecticut will be the final one under the current program. CT DEEP anticipates awarding about $25 million in Round 3. That’s at least eight new microgrids, and perhaps more. The state has already awarded grants to 11 microgrids in the previous two rounds of the solicitation.