The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week announced it is awarding a $3 million grant to the Robert W. Galvin Center for Electricity Innovation. This project — which is in partnership with Chicago-based Veriown Energy — is to help develop a microgrid on the campuses of the University of the Virgins Islands located in St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The microgrid will reduce the University’s dependence on fossil fuels by 50 percent by next year and produce 3.5 million kilowatt hours annually. This energy project is significant given that electricity costs in the Virgin Islands are usually four times higher there than what consumers experience in the United States.
Veriown teamed up with Mohammad Shahidehpour, Director of the Galvin Center and Bodine Chair Professor, on this project after a result of discussions dating back five years ago regarding the potential for a microgrid system in a campus setting.
The grant, which is part of the USDA High Energy Cost Grant Program, is designed to provide financial assistance for the improvement of energy generation, transmission and distribution facilities serving eligible rural communities.