Panel OKs study to reduce power outages
TRENTON — An Assembly panel passed legislation prompting a study of microgrids and electric generators to reduce the duration of power outages in the state.
The bill is sponsored by Assemblyman Hal Wirths, who represents part of Sussex County that was hard-hit by extended blackouts after back-to-back snow storms in March.
Wirths’ measure directs the Board of Public Utilities to conduct a six-month review of the effectiveness of microgrids in restoring power after a storm or natural disaster.
“Microgrid technology holds tremendous promise,” said Wirths. “We had families who were without power for almost a week last winter. Tens of thousands of customers were kept in the dark while they waited for repairs to be completed. The study will consider whether there is a better way to deliver power and keep the lights on in a storm.”
The electric grid is an interconnected web of wiring that links homes, businesses and schools to a power source. Damage to the grid, common during and after storms, can sever service to neighborhoods or entire towns.
Microgrids operate within the grid, but can function independently in the case of a power failure, seamlessly providing homes with electricity from local generators.
“Storms are a fact of life in the northeast, but going without power for the next week is unacceptable,” said Wirths. “This could be a solution to the massive power outages we had after Superstorm Sandy, when more than 3 million homes were without power in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”