North Bay Hydro gets utility-scale microgrid

North Bay, Ontario, and Chicago: S&C Electric Company and North Bay Hydro Services, an Ontario-based municipal electric utility affiliate services provider, announced the completion July 10 of North Bay's Community Energy Park project with the successful installation of what they are calling the first utility-scale advanced microgrid in Canada.

          The system will successfully island, or keep a group of critical buildings powered, to create a community shelter for the town's more than 51,000 residents if a winter storm, or other disaster, were to knock out North Bay's power.

The IESO’s Terry Young in front of the Solar Flower, part of North Bay’s new microgrid. Developed largely in response to a 2013 ice storm that hit the province of Ontario and left hundreds of thousands of residents without power for days, the 789kW microgrid will supply enough energy to heat buildings in the town's Community Energy Park, including the local YMCA Aquatic Centre and Memorial Gardens Sports Arena, allowing thousands of local residents a safe haven from the elements during any prolonged power outage. The microgrid is powered by two 265-kW natural gas generators, 7kW of rooftop solar panels and a 2.5 kW “solar flower.” A 250kW battery is also part of the CEP.

          As an information sheet describes it, the primary source of energy comes from two 265-kW natural gas generators in a combined heat and power (CHP) system. Waste heat is used mainly to heat buildings, and potentially to warm community residents during a severe winter weather situation, as well as heating the Aquatic Centre’s pool and other uses.

          A 2.5 kW “solar flower” supplements the on-site generation and powers the new electric vehicle recharging stations at the facilities. Surplus generation is stored in a 250-kW battery for later use.

          S&C’s GridMaster® Microgrid Control System manages the power sources to ensure generation and load is balanced appropriately. Additionally, the controller continuously monitors the status of the microgrid’s distributed energy resources and assesses the microgrid’s capability to operate as an island. It also monitors the health of the main grid’s supply and automatically triggers islanding if it senses a sustained outage.

          The microgrid is scalable, so that generation sources can be added to support seamless power delivery when future updates are made to the buildings’ infrastructures, their electrical assets, or the main grid.

          In addition to helping North Bay meet its goal of developing a reliably-powered safe refuge, proponents say the microgrid will “greatly improve the city's overall power efficiency.” The project now allows for North Bay Hydro Services to provide 87 percent of the electricity requirements for the Community Energy Park's buildings from on-site generation, along with more than half of the park's electrical heating needs.


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