Innovation at Mason & Hanger: Microgrid Projects

Innovation at Mason & Hanger: Microgrid Projects

Mason & Hanger is in the process of designing several microgrid projects for various Department of Defense (DOD) installations. Microgrids provide energy resilience and security to military installations through the utilization of one or more backup power supplies, typically in the form of large scale, paralleled natural gas generators and photovoltaic (PV) arrays paired with battery energy storage system (BESS). These projects are under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center Huntsville (HNC) Energy Resilience Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP), aiming to add energy resilience and security at the installation-level.

“Currently, we are designing multiple microgrids, from coast to coast, within the continental United States,” said Darin Hensley, Program Manager for Military Programs at Mason & Hanger. “Our worldwide architectural and engineering experience has prepared our successful team of experts to deliver these mission critical projects closer to home.”

Typically, measures for backup power have occurred at the facility level, through dedicated generator sets and, in some cases, uninterruptible power supplies that would feed a single building or portions of a single building. While this does provide energy resilience and security at the individual building level, challenges are posed for facilities that were not constructed with this infrastructure, due to timing, resource or budget constraints. A microgrid installed at the feeding substation level is an innovative solution to solve this problem. By intercepting the existing electrical distribution system at the source, resilience can be added to the entire existing electrical distribution system, eliminating the need for massive funding, logistical and design challenges that would occur if backup power was designed and constructed for each individual building. 

Typical for a cutting-edge endeavor of this size and scope, this project has presented challenges that Mason & Hanger has had to overcome. Doug Peckinpaugh, Electrical Director at Mason & Hanger, illustrates some of the challenges faced on the first microgrid project Mason & Hanger designed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord.

“The JBLM DES microgrid project was a challenging project. I believe that that it is one of the first projects that M&H has designed that that included solar PV, Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS), and generators," said Peckinpaugh. "The microgrid supplies a portion of the 13.8 kV electrical grid at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Dupont, Washington.  Additional challenges included working multiple stakeholders including the privatized utility City Light and Power, the Huntsville Center, Louisville District Corps of Engineers, and JBLM.”

By embracing the challenges associated with these projects, Mason & Hanger is utilizing our vision of innovation to meet our clients’ needs and become a trusted leader that our clients can count on. Trust is required when implementing new and innovative technologies for our clients.

“With these three microgrid projects, we’ve greatly expanded our knowledge and capabilities into the world of distributed generation for power," said Rob McAtee, Director of Energy and Sustainability. "Battery energy storage systems will continue to provide new capabilities for resilience and reduced costs, there is a lot to consider related performance, cost, and most importantly, safety. I am glad we are getting ahead of the curve on the application of this technology.  These projects have been challenging, but it’s exciting to be part of something that has so many uses.”

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