City Microgrid Project Progressing Slowly

Progress on a proposed microgrid project is taking place, but it is slow and painstaking.

David Leathers, Jamestown BPU general manager, told BPU board members recently that the utility is negotiating with the Department of Energy to work on a microgrid project.

“We’re still working through the contract negotiation process with representatives from the DOE,” Leathers said. “This is for the Jamestown community microgrid project and we are having weekly meetings with them and progressing the process but it just seems painfully slow.”

The microgrid received a $17 million funding commitment from the federal government last October. The BPU project includes a $5,792,648 local match and will include a microgrid, electric vehicle charging, battery storage and replacement of underground cabling. The project will enable the core area of downtown Jamestown to either remain in electrical and thermal service or experience only a brief outage in a disruptive event if the microgrid is in place. Such a microgrid would provide electricity to the dJamestown area, including facilities providing essential services such as the Jamestown Police, Fire and Public Works Departments, the BPU Electric and Water Resources Divisions, Alstar EMS Ambulance Service, UPMC Chautauqua Hospital, the Urgent Care Medical Facility and several large community buildings that could host shelters in case of a prolonged emergency event. The proposed microgrid would take advantage of the BPU’s existing gas turbine, its network of underground circuits, the district heating system and the addition of a black start battery storage system.

Leathers also updated board members on several projects that have happened or are set to happen in the city. Spring water flushing ended on May 15, and Leathers reported everything with that went well, with no issues of significance reported. Water main replacement work with Lakeshore Paving is set to begin in June, and the staff of the power plant is working on other spring projects.

“Power plant staff remain super busy with spring maintenance outage projects,” Leathers said.

Leathers reminded everyone that the ReTool ’24 conference will take place on June 11 at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel.

Other fundraisers and projects that involve the BPU include the cents for St Susan’s annual fundraiser which continues into July and a hot dog sale out in the BPU parking lot. One other project in the works that involves the BPU is a solar project agreement that is in development between the BPU and Jamestown Community College, with the intent to place solar panels on the campus.

“That’s been progressed to put solar on one of the buildings there,” Leathers said.


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