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Gov. Malloy Helps Power Up State's First Microgrid At Wesleyan

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) - In an effort to combat future widespread power outages, Connecticut officials launched the state's first microgrid Thursday.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, microgrids are a means of providing power when storms knock out electricity to entire communities.

Gov. Malloy Helps Power Up State's First Microgrid At Wesleyan

They provide inexpensive and reliable energy to any given community in Connecticut in the event of a huge power outage, Schneidau reported.

"We don't see undergrounding all the wires as a viable option, which is really the only other way that's been thought about seriously of responding to these severe weather events," Alex Kragie with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection told Schneidau. "We're dealing with more severe and frequent weather events and instead of taking large-scale actions that might be overly costly to the ratepayers, such as undergrounding all of our power lines, we're trying to come at this incrementally."

Microgrids are fueled by natural gas and will provide hubs of power where they're built.

The first microgrid is now online at Wesleyan University in Middletown.

"This is the first of nine projects coming online under the initial round of our first-in-the-nation statewide microgrid program, and there will be more to come as we are now accepting proposals for a second ground of grants," Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday.

The governor  announced plans for microgrid systems last summer after a committee looking into outages from 2011's Tropical Storm Irene and an ensuing snowstorm issued its recommendations.

The nine locations in the first round of funding - Bridgeport, Fairfield, Groton, Hartford, Middletown, Storrs, Windham and Woodbridge - were awarded a total of $18 million in grants to install microgrid systems.

Malloy announced $15 million will be used to fund second round of grants for additional microgrid projects. DEEP has issued a request for proposals with the grant money expected to be awarded this fall, according to the governor's office.

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