Transit Microgrid to Increase System Resiliency and Reliability for NJ Transit
While proven to work well on large campuses and military bases, using a microgrid to provide power to a transit system presented new and unique challenges.
The objective of the $577 million NJ TransitGrid project, the first of its kind in the United States for public transportation, is to implement a microgrid capable of providing reliable power for core critical transit infrastructure supporting rail systems operated by NJ Transit and other operators of the Northeast Corridor (NEC). The microgrid will be capable of supplying highly resilient power during critical times when the regional electric grid may be compromised due to storms or other events.
Key design components of the new microgrid include a central, natural gas-fired power plant and associated substations, transmission/distribution lines to substations that electrify the tracks and operating controls for critical portions of the NJ TRANSIT and the NEC systems, as well as connections to the PJM commercial grid.
Working with Sandia National Labs, Burns is responsible for evaluation of the traction power, signals, and other critical systems necessary to operate trains within the boundary of the TransitGrid. Burns is also responsible for the design of the TransitGrid transmission and distribution system. Using many years of transit engineering expertise coupled with experience developing advanced microgrids, Burns was uniquely able to assist NJ Transit.
Burns also performed a comprehensive assessment of the economic, technical and operational feasibility of TransitGrid.
During the assessment, significant focus was developing capital and operating cost estimates for a large central generation station to meet the highly variable traction power loads of the transit system. This work involved evaluating prime mover technologies including turbines and reciprocating engines, power plant configurations and innovative operating strategies. Burns evaluated distributed energy resources that would support non-traction power loads at outlying passenger facilities including cogeneration, solar PV, fuel cells, battery storage and demand response.
In addition, Burns assessed fuel supply and related equipment, as well as electrical distribution upgrades and interconnection points that would deliver resilient power throughout NJ Transit system’s critical infrastructure from Newark to Jersey City. Burns reviewed and provided input on technology upgrades and integration strategies including metering, relaying, smart micro-grid communication, network operations center and large regional substations to ensure resilient design and operation.
Additionally, Burns worked with the local utility and the State of New Jersey to determine the impact of the generation assets and other distributed energy resources on the regional electric grid, and considered alternative business structures, financing and asset ownership and operation to most cost-effectively design, build and operate these assets.