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Maryland Energy Administration Awards Frostburg State University $750,000 to Develop Microgrid

26 Jul 2022

The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) announces a key step forward in bolstering Maryland's resilience to energy disruptions. Frostburg State University (FSU), located in Allegany County, has been awarded a $750,000 grant from MEA's Fiscal Year 22 (FY22) Resilient Maryland Capital Development (RMCD) Pilot Program to help cover the costs of installing a clean energy microgrid to safeguard its critical operations from energy disruptions, integrate an emergency shelter for the surrounding community, and meet its sustainability goals. FSU is the first recipient of funding under this program.

FSU began exploring the possibility of a microgrid in 2020 when it received a MEA Resilient Maryland Planning grant to help pay for the costs of conducting a comprehensive feasibility study and completing crucial preconstruction planning activities to identify a viable model. The analysis revealed that not only was a campus microgrid possible, but that it would allow FSU and the wider Frostburg community to leverage the benefits of clean energy to increase resiliency to power outages and disaster situations. FSU will designate one of its buildings as an official emergency shelter, and it will be powered by a microgrid. Once the project is complete, FSU students, faculty, staff, and Frostburg community members will be able to rely on an easily accessible location during emergency situations.

"We are excited for Maryland institutions like Frostburg that see the benefits of expanding sustained electrical power through this program," said Dr. Mary Tung, Director of MEA. "In times of much needed emergency operation, it's vital to ensure our communities protect our most at risk with the necessary energy resources."

The project will be made possible by the integration of several key technologies: solar energy, a fuel cell, thermal storage, and advanced heat exchange systems. Solar arrays will be installed across campus, which includes rooftop and ground-mounted systems, and a solar canopy over a parking lot with integrated electric vehicle charging stations. A fuel cell will also be installed to produce electricity and generate useful heat energy that can be used to heat water for campus purposes and create chilled water through the use of an absorption chiller. An advanced microgrid control system will ensure that all of these technologies efficiently and effectively operate with each other to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable energy to FSU in both normal conditions and during outages. 

FSU's microgrid project is fostering a new clean energy workforce and economic development opportunities for Western Maryland and the state as a whole. The preconstruction analysis project funded by the Resilient Maryland Planning program resulted in internship opportunities for students as well as clean energy certification and degree programs that will now be offered by the university. These ideas have also been explored and adopted by other higher learning institutions, such as the Allegany College of Maryland, Garrett College, Howard Community College, and the University of Maryland. 

"Providing career training and opportunities for Western Maryland is a crucial component of keeping well-paying, local jobs in these communities," said Governor Hogan. "It has revealed that they are ripe for innovation and leadership in Maryland's clean energy transition."

MEA | energy.maryland.gov