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August 27, 2013

NJ, Feds developing grid for stronger power infrastructure

Photo courtesy Kmf164 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Kmf164 via Wikimedia Commons

The state of New Jersey is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy to design NJ TransitGrid — a first-of-its-kind electrical microgrid capable of supplying highly reliable power during storms or other times when the traditional centralized grid is compromised.

Electrical microgrids can supply highly reliable power during storms or other times when the traditional centralized grid is compromised. A power network of this kind would not only alleviate the social and economic impact of a major transit infrastructure-related power disruption but is also critical to facilitate emergency evacuation-related activities. This has particular value to NJ Transit, which is dependent on outside grids to keep hundreds of thousands of customers on the move each day.

The U.S. Department of Energy, NJ Transit and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate with Sandia National Laboratories to study and design a microgrid, entitled the NJ TransitGrid.

The proposed NJ TransitGrid could potentially increase the resiliency and reliability of NJ Transit’s electrical systems. This could be accomplished via:

•    The design, construction and operation of self-generation power facilities.

•    The design, construction and operation of a new, dedicated power grid.

•    The distribution of self-generated power to NJ Transit’s overhead catenary wire network.

•    The distribution of self-generated power to key NJ Transit facilities.

NJ Transit could make use of existing railroad rights-of-way to transmit this power between the generation site(s), facilities and rail lines in Jersey City, Kearny, Secaucus, Hoboken, Harrison and Newark. Railroad facilities and lines in these communities represent the most crucial  and vulnerable corridor within the agency’s rail system. It is anticipated that such a power network could potentially increase the resiliency and reliability of NJ Transit’s electrical systems.

NJ Transit is the nation’s third-largest transportation system and serves nearly 900,000 passengers each day, and is dependent on outside electrical grids to remain operational. NJ Transit is currently moving forward with a comprehensive Sandy recovery plan designed to strengthen critical infrastructure, including raising of critical power substations and installing nearly 600 steel catenary power poles.

Fortifying power production and delivery is the next step needed to support these important resiliency efforts.


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