After a number of serious storms, culminating in Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which caused billions of dollars in damage and closed parts of the transit system, New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJT), the state-owned public transportation system, wanted to reduce its vulnerability to the loss of electric power caused by natural or manmade disasters.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department of Energy (DOE), NJT, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and Sandia National Laboratories was announced on August 26, 2013, after the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force was charged by President Obama with identifying and working to remove obstacles to resilient rebuilding while considering existing and future risks.
Sandia National Laboratories was brought in by the DOE based on its prior work in microgrid research and development for more than 20 military bases. Its partnership with NJT uses a measurable risk-assessment approach called the Energy Surety Microgrid™ (ESM), a design methodology developed at Sandia.
After completing the initial design, New Jersey was awarded $410 million from the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop NJ TRANSITGRID, a first-of-its-kind electric microgrid for transportation capable of supplying highly reliable power. With the DOT funding in place, an umbrella Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with a total value of over $1 million was signed so that Sandia could continue working with the state on furthering development of NJ TRANSITGRID.
The NJ TRANSITGRID is a groundbreaking project for several reasons. It is the first critical civilian application of a design methodology originally developed for military installations. The project will help identify and address gaps that challenge the widespread deployment of microgrids, including regulatory implementation. When successfully completed, the NJ TRANSIT project will be a model to guide the application of resilient microgrids to other critical infrastructure.
One of the greatest successes of this project and collaboration is bringing resilient energy to the forefront of discussions about improving infrastructure. For the first time, a smart microgrid is being designed for a core segment of a large-scale transportation system, involving multiple states, jurisdictions, agencies, and complex legal issues.
The threats to public transportation and other public services due to both natural and manmade disasters are ever-present, and the NJ TRANSITGRID represents a real, achievable solution to preparing for these high-consequence events. Additionally, the size of this project has attracted the interest of other major cities and organizations, and its success may well mean more resilient energy projects in the future.
Contact: Jackie Kerby-Moore, (505) 845-8107, [email protected]