GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — State and township officials formally announced a $175,000 power grid feasibility study Friday that could one day keep critical facilities running in the event of a blackout.

The announcement was one of two Friday in South Jersey. In Cape May County, officials hailed a similar study grant that could allow a power grid to connect 17 critical facilities.

Atlantic City announced its plan Sept. 1. In all, 13 towns, counties or authorities in the state will receive the grants, which total $2 million, through the Board of Public Utilities.

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In Galloway, Mayor Don Purdy and BPU members said that during Hurricane Sandy, about 3 million people lost power, as did hospitals, water utilities and other critical facilities, complicating recovery efforts and requiring people to boil water days after the storm in 2012.

“This is one of the reasons we applied for this grant,” Purdy said. “We’re here to protect our residents, not just in Galloway, but all of Atlantic County.”

Many residents from coastal communities traveled inland to Galloway to ride out the hurricane at Stockton University, which maintained power, Purdy said.

The 2015 State Energy Master Plan update included a section that supports the establishment of microgrids to improve resiliency after storms, BPU President Richard Mroz said.

“We are looking at (the feasibility studies) in a deliberate way to improve resiliency,” he said.

The Galloway project would power the township hall, police station, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center Mainland Campus, along with several schools and the Shoprite, which could provide shelter and services in an emergency.

The microgrid would let the facilities stay open and operational if the larger electric grid is down.

The feasibility study will look at ways to independently power a microgrid, a unit that is separated from the main electric grid and would be able to power critical facilities in major storms such as Sandy.

The proposed microgrid in Cape May County would utilize a new Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system fueled by syngas/biogas produced at the county’s Municipal Utilities Authority Seven Mile Beach/Middle Wastewater Treatment Facility to generate electrical and thermal energy for numerous critical public facilities in the Crest Haven Complex.

Cape May County’s proposed microgrid would connect critical facilities such as the jail, county administration building, a fueling station, wastewater pumping stations and the county’s nursing home.

“We are so excited to be part of this innovative project. We sincerely thank President Mroz and the board for providing us seed money necessary for the feasibility study and visiting us here in Cape May County to see our facility first hand,” Cape May County Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton said.

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609-272-7090 Twitter @_waldy

Waldy Diez joined the Press of Atlantic City's breaking news team in July 2017. She's a graduate of Syracuse and Rowan Universities. Previously, she was a morning tv news producer.

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