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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

RAVINDER S. BHALLA

Mayor

Ravi Bhalla was elected Hoboken’s 39th Mayor on November 7, 2017. Born and raised in New Jersey, Mayor Bhalla is a 17 year resident of Hoboken and eight year member of the Hoboken City Council.

He received his undergraduate education from the University of California at Berkeley, where he received a B.A. in Political Psychology. Upon graduation, he attended the London School of Economics (L.S.E.) in the United Kingdom and received a Master of Science degree in Public Administration and Public Policy, and also earned a Juris Doctor Degree from Tulane Law School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ravi first set his roots in Hoboken at the age of 26, a bachelor fresh out of law school starting his first job at a small law firm in Newark, New Jersey.  Ravi earned national recognition in the New York Times for his legal advocacy after suffering a violation of his own constitutional and civil rights during a jail visit to a client. The incident motivated Ravi to lead a successful campaign to reform the federal government’s visitation policies at correctional facilities nationwide.

Ravi married his wife Bindya, and they had two children, Arza and Shahbegh.  It was during this time that Hoboken’s local government was in dire straits. He observed and witnessed mismanaged government at the local level, including a government budget that was underfunded and overspent by $12 million, a state takeover of Hoboken, and a 70% spike in municipal taxes in a single year.

Ravi served as Council President from 2011-2012 and Council Vice-President from 2010-2011 and 2013-2014.

Ravi and his wife Bindya reside on Garden Street with their two children, Arza Kaur, age 10 and Shabegh Singh, age 5.

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