DURHAM – In order to enhance the resiliency of the local electric system and advance clean energy technologies, Eversource, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the Town of Durham announced a partnership to plan the development of a community microgrid. The Oyster River Clean Innovation Project will propose an interconnected system of distributed energy resources, including solar and battery technology, that will act as an island during extreme weather, ensuring that power serving the campus and critical town facilities is not interrupted.
“We’re proud to join our partners at the University of New Hampshire and in the Town of Durham on this innovative clean energy project that will enhance reliability for the university and local customers,” said Eversource NH President Bill Quinlan. “The Oyster River Clean Innovation Project will represent an exciting step forward for cutting-edge technologies in the Granite State, helping to lay the foundation for a cleaner energy future that is both reliable and affordable.”
“The University of New Hampshire has long been committed to sustainability – our main campus is powered by 100 percent renewable energy, all of our campus buses run on 100 percent alternative fuel and we were the first university in the country to have all of its residence halls receive an EPA Energy Star rating – and we’re pleased to partner with the town of Durham and Eversource to increase the resiliency of our local electric system and to contribute the expertise of our researchers to advance clean energy technologies, particularly around solar and battery technology,” said UNH President James W. Dean, Jr.
“One of Durham's core goals is to pursue environmental sustainability and resiliency, anticipating the community’s and the region’s future needs by considering multiple elements including energy resources, and specifically taking into account existing and predicted impacts of climate change,” said Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig. “A collaborative project of this nature between Eversource, UNH, and Durham will place us in a strong position to weather the challenges that lie ahead in our collective future.”
While still in the planning and development process, the Oyster River Clean Innovation Project will incorporate several leading technologies to improve the resiliency of the electric system, integrate distributed energy resources and provide environmental benefits in a safe and secure manner. The key components of the project are planned to include: solar generation to increase clean energy resources; battery storage to support the integration of intermittent resources like solar; microgrid controller software technology to manage resources when the system is temporarily operating independently from the integrated electric grid during a power interruption (or as an “island”); and robust communications infrastructure to ensure reliable microgrid operation.
With the oldest endowed sustainability program in the country, UNH provides the ideal academic setting for research opportunities to inform future applications of these technologies in New Hampshire. A formal research initiative at the university will be a key component of the project, further supporting a clean energy future for the state.
Preliminary cost estimates are about $15 million, and the partners will aggressively seek to leverage federal grant opportunities to support the project’s development. Eversource will request approval for the project in its permanent distribution rate filing
with the NH Public Utilities Commission at the end of the month.