Officials of Ossining, a village in Westchester County, New York, are working to keep some of the village's lights on or at least some electricity flowing the next time the power goes out.
With help from Pace University, village leaders are investigating creating an independent community-based power distribution system known as a microgrid. Connected to the region's power system, it would supply electricity to parts of the village when the main grid goes down.
"We think it's a very good idea for us to begin to study this and for other communities to follow," Ossining Mayor Bill Hanauer said.
At least one microgrid is in place in New York City, and Connecticut last summer funded nine projects powering police stations, schools and other public places. Ossining could seek state grant money for its project.
Superstorm Sandy in 2012 knocked out electricity to the village's water treatment plant, threatening the water supply of 30,000 residents, Hanauer said. Only by babying a generator was Ossining able to keep the water flowing, he said. Hanauer said he wanted to harden the village to better weather such situations in the future.
The Hudson River village has been discussing independent power systems for several years as part of the Northern Westchester Energy Action Consortium. Recently it moved ahead with the help of Pace Law School's Energy and Climate Center and the university's Environmental Policy Clinic.
The village board earlier this month passed a resolution drafted by clinic students to begin studying how to create a microgrid, a first step in participating in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's NY Prize program. NY Prize is a $40-million competition to help build "community-scale power grids ... that can disconnect and operate as an independent power system system to keep the lights on during an emergency," according to a state announcement.
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