June 24, 2020

Media Contact: 

Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412 

ELLICOTT CITY, MD – The Howard County Office of Community Sustainability (OCS) was awarded two grants, totaling $109k, from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA). OCS received a $9k grant to plan a Combined Heat & Power (CHP) system at the Howard County Detention Center and up to $100k to plan a microgrid project at the George Howard Complex and the Roger Carter Center. The microgrid project includes two forms of clean and efficient on-site power generation to improve the resiliency of critical public safety operations. 

“Especially in tough times Howard County needs to lead with bold visions for the future,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “As we anticipate more extreme weather and other adverse effects of climate change these projects will increase our emergency preparedness and our community resiliency, without any additional costs to Howard County residents.”  

“Maryland’s clean energy future needs to move forward and Resilient Maryland encourages this progress by providing vital funding to kick-start customized projects,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our push for clean energy ensures a more environmentally sustainable, more resilient and more prosperous Maryland.” 

The microgrid, which can operate independently of the power grid, would allow Howard County to provide uninterrupted public safety and other critical services even in the event of prolonged grid outages, while generating clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The planning and design work funded by the grant will help the County determine the exact configuration of power generation, which likely will include solar and highly efficient natural gas generators, among other technologies.

The microgrid planning project includes four buildings that are part of the Howard County Government Campus on Court House Drive in Ellicott City. These buildings house many critical government functions, including the County’s Emergency Operations Center, County Government Administration, County Council, Northern District Police, Fire and Rescue, and other critical services. The microgrid may also extend to the nearby Roger Carter Community Center, an emergency cooling center for the community. 

The project at the Howard County Detention Center will include a feasibility study and planning for the installation of a CHP, which uses the waste heat from on-site energy generation to provide hot water for the building. The system also would enable black start and islanding capability, allowing the facility to operate independent of the grid. The County also has plans to incorporate a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) array through a separate project which will further improve resiliency while using clean energy.  

“Historically, Maryland has imported most of our energy from out of state coal-fired power plants,” explained MEA Director Mary Beth Tung. “The Resilient Maryland pilot offers a unique opportunity for innovation right here in Maryland across a variety of clean energy alternatives, reducing both financial risk and total project costs.”

The grants are part of MEA’s highly-competitive pilot Resilient Maryland program to provide funding for eligible organizations and governments to conduct feasibility analysis, engineering and design plans to increase resiliency of mission critical buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lower the cost of energy. A total of 14 grant applications from across the state have been awarded $1.05 million dollars in funding.  

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