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N.J. Board of Public Utilities Joins Hoboken and DOE to Highlight Feasibility Study for Proposed Hoboken Microgrid

Today, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (Board) President Richard S. Mroz was joined by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Rima Oueid, U.S. Department of Energy, to highlight the Board’s approval of Hoboken’s application for funding to conduct a Town Center Distributed Energy Resource microgrid feasibility study. The Board is providing approximately $157,000 in funding for Hoboken’s feasibility study, which should be completed in approximately one year.

“As the fifth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy approaches, we recall that Hoboken was one of the towns particularly hard hit by the storm,” said President Mroz. “Hoboken’s wide-ranging proposal is unique amongst the other proposed microgrids that the Board recently approved for feasibility study funding in that Hoboken’s microgrid plan considers many types of vital services and critical facilities, such as a grocery store and pharmacies that residents may need during a major outage.”

The City of Hoboken filed an application for a Feasibility Study to examine the potential of connecting multiple critical facilities that include Hoboken Fire Company 3, Police Headquarter, City Hall, the Hoboken Homeless Shelter, St. Matthews Church, as well as St. Peter and Paul Church, Kings Grocery, municipal garages B, D & G, multiple senior housing facilities, the YMCA, two local pharmacies, three Hoboken Housing Authority Properties (Andrew Jackson Gardens, Harrison Gardens, Adams and Monroe Gardens), and pump stations.

“Thank you to President Mroz and the Board of Public Utilities for approving our microgrid feasibility study and providing us with the funding necessary to move this project forward,” said Mayor Zimmer. “A Town Center microgrid will alleviate some of the serious issues we had as a

result of Superstorm Sandy, create a platform for more renewable energy, and help meet peak power needs of the traditional grid. We are fully committed to a more energy-resilient future and are already installing the conduit for a future microgrid backbone as part of our Washington Street project.”

Hoboken’s feasibility study will evaluate most commercially-viable technologies, including but not limited to Distributive Energy Resource, energy storage systems, solar, combined heat and power (“CHP”), thermal loops, and biodiesel fueled generators.

“DOE hopes Hoboken is successful in implementing electricity resilience to protect their critical infrastructure and communities,” said Rima Oueid, Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Energy. “This could potentially serve as a model for others. The projects for this event are an extension of DOE’s collaboration with NJ through the Hurricane Sandy Taskforce. The DOE Microgrid Program, within the Office of Electricity, is interested in continuing its collaboration with NJBPU to further advance the 13 NJ microgrid feasibility studies into the next phase.”

In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the Christie Administration made it a priority to improve energy resiliency and the emergency preparedness and response of the utility companies. The 2015 Energy Master Plan Update (EMP) contained a new section on hardening and improving utility infrastructure resiliency which supports the establishment of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) such as microgrids to improve the grid’s resiliency and reliability in the event of a major emergency.

The EMP Update also directed the Board to continue its work with the utility companies, local, state and federal governments, and other strategic partners to identify, design and implement Town Center microgrids to power critical facilities and services across the state.

Microgrids are mini grids powered by onsite distributed generation that provide electric, heat and cooling to critical facilities such as a hospital, public safety headquarters, town halls, school, and other buildings that can serve as emergency shelters during a crisis, which are located in a small geographic area. These smaller grids, operating on their own, “islanded” from the main power grid, can separate and protect themselves from any problems with the main grid and keep vital services in place.

The Board established a Town Center Microgrid Feasibility Study program to fund all 13 applications at a total cost of $2,052,480. The program was developed to provide incentives for local and state government agencies to study the feasibility of Town Center DER microgrids.

The Board approved funding for applications submitted by: Atlantic City, Camden County, Cape May County MUA, Galloway Township, Highland Park, Hoboken, Hudson County, Middletown Township, Montclair Township, Neptune Township, Paterson, Woodbridge Township, and the State of New Jersey Department of Treasury with the partners Mercer County, Mercer County Improvement Authority, and Trenton.

Information regarding the board’s approval of the 13 applications for feasibility studies is below: www.state.nj.us/bpu/newsroom/announcements/pdf/20170630_MicrogridFeasibilityStudies.pdf

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Meet the mayor

Dawn Zimmer


Dawn Zimmer became the first female Mayor of Hoboken in 2009. Prior to that, she served as a Councilwoman after becoming involved in civic life as an advocate for park space. She was a member of the steering Committee of the Southwest Parks Coalition, and was one of five individuals who were named plaintiffs in a lawsuit that stopped a developer friendly redevelopment plan that would have added 1,200 high-rise condo units to Southwest Hoboken. Zimmer supported a better approach to redevelopment that included smaller buildings, more park space, traffic controls, restaurants and shops.

As Mayor, her priorities include restoring fiscal responsibility and improving quality of life for residents. Since taking office, she has steadily reduced taxes and established a responsible cash surplus for the first time in many years. Following audits of the police and fire departments, restructuring and redeployment allowed the city to save millions of dollars per year while enhancing community safety. Through privatization, she saved the City’s cash-strapped hospital from closing, saved more than 1,200 jobs, and relieved taxpayers of a $52 million bond guarantee. Combined, these actions have positioned Hoboken to improve its near-junk bond rating. Mayor Zimmer is using technology to make government more efficient and provide new services and information directly to residents at minimal cost. Under her watch, Hoboken is transitioning from a car-centric city into a nationally-recognized leader in progressive transportation initiatives. Through a public-private partnership, Hoboken is home to Corner Cars, the first on-street, city-wide car sharing program in the country.

Before taking time off to care for her two young sons, Dawn worked in communications for a large Japanese trading company and did crisis communications for one of the top public relations firms in the country. She’s also a photographer and served as marketing director for a family business. She is a Cum Laude Graduate of the University of New Hampshire, where she rowed crew for four years. Dawn is a runner who has run the New York City Marathon. She lives in Southwest Hoboken with her husband and two children.

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