Assessment of an Alternative Renewable Energy-Based Hybrid Microgrid for NJ TRANSITGRID Project

March 13, 2023

Strategen | Clean Energy Group, Empower NJ

This analysis, conducted by Strategen Consulting on behalf of Empower NJ and Clean Energy Group, was prepared in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) for the design and development of a backup power generation project to maintain the operation of critical portions of its transportation infrastructure during grid outages. The RFP called for a new microgrid facility on 20 acres of land in Kearny, able to produce up to 140 MW of power that could power approximately 40% of NJ Transit’s normal daily commuting load and operate full-time selling power back to the grid. Based on several NJ Transit documents, including its Industry Briefing Document, it is understood that the proposed microgrid is expected to be powered by a combined-cycle gas plant, further deepening environmental justice harms to surrounding communities already overburden by fossil infrastructure.

The analysis by Strategen determined that the development of a system powered by solar, battery storage, and a smaller backup gas turbine would be a viable, reliable, and preferred alternative to a new gas plant for meeting NJ Transit’s critical loads during severe weather-related outages. Offering higher financial benefits and substantial environmental and health benefits, the solar, energy storage, and gas turbine system would offer more future value than a gas plant, while minimizing risks associated with gas price volatility, stranded costs, and fuel availability. Unlike a gas-fired plant, which will incur additional costs to replace by 2050 or otherwise convert to mitigate its associated emissions, solar and battery storage are already clean and provide greater financial certainty in meeting the NJ Transit’s long-term needs for resilient and reliable backup power during periods of electricity disruption.