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Office of Energy and SustainabilitySuperior government service with the smallest possible environmental footprint

Resiliency

Montgomery County is improving its ability to anticipate and quickly adapt to extreme weather, economic downturns, and natural and man-made disasters. The County is planning and developing programs to improve availability of critical services and amenities such as public transit, roads, power grid, police, and firefighting operations during these kinds of events.

November is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month

As we celebrate Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month, you can rest assured that Montgomery County continually plans ahead to ensure public safety during major storms and other disasters. This includes improving the resiliency of County facilities and improving the reliability and resiliency of the utility grid.

About Resiliency

Resiliency is the County’s ability to quickly and efficiently respond to and recover from storms and natural disasters. Reducing energy use and increasing on-site power generation at critical facilities ensures that Montgomery County can keep residents safe and provide needed services in spite of power outages. Resilient County facilities also relieve pressure on the power grid, reducing blackouts and brownouts during times of peak electricity use. In addition to piloting energy saving on-site power generation using combined heat and power technology, we are building the resiliency of the local power grid by generating solar energy on County facilities and making our buildings more energy efficient.

Another important aspect of resiliency is the County’s ability to clear roads and restore services during extreme weather events. Winter Storm Jonas, a major blizzard that produced more than three feet of snow in Montgomery County in one weekend in January 2016, demonstrated the County’s resiliency. Within two days of the end of the storm, 86% of County facilities were ready to resume operations. All facilities were accessible and ready to resume operations by the third day after the storm.

Microgrids

Montgomery County has entered into an innovative public-private partnership to install microgrids at Public Safety Headquarters and Montgomery County Correctional Facility. Microgrids are on-site clean power generation systems that allow critical operations to run independently of the power grid. Microgrids combine technologies such as solar panels, combined heat and power generation systems, batteries, and advanced controllers that include built in cyber-security. Microgrids are resilient because they allow facilities to generate their own power and run uninterrupted during storms and other major power outages. Through the public-private partnership, the microgrids will be installed without any upfront costs to the County. The on-site power generation at these two sites are anticipated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as taking 765 cars off the road or planting 94,000 trees. They also will ensure that the County can continue to provide critical services to the community during major storms and other external events. More...

Solar

Solar power bolsters resiliency by generating power on-site and relieving pressure from the power grid during times of high energy use, such as hot summer days. Montgomery County is installing 11 megawatts of solar on County-owned facilities. These distributed solar energy systems will generate more than 16 million kilowatt hours of electricity each year. That is enough electricity to power more than 1,600 homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 11,000 metric tons. The environmental benefit is equivalent to planting 291,000 trees. In addition, solar energy generation will save the County $15 million in electric bills over 20 years.

Combined Heat & Power

Combined Heat and Power, also known as co-generation, saves energy by using waste heat from on-site power generation to heat buildings. While all power generators create heat, most allow the heat to escape into the atmosphere. The combined heat and power system captures that heat and uses it to provide heating for the building. The County’s first combined heat and power system started providing power and heat to the County’s Pre-Release Center in Rockville in June 2016. This facility is a good test case because combined heat and power is best suited for facilities that can use all of the electricity and heat on-site as it is generated – usually facilities that have a constant electrical and hot water need, such as correctional facilities. The system uses a microturbine – a small jet engine that uses natural gas efficiently to generate electricity and heat at the same time. The combined heat and power system is up to twice as efficient as the more traditional separate electrical and heating systems found in buildings. The combined heat and power system will serve as the main source of electricity and heat for the building, with the less efficient grid and boiler system serving as a back-up.

The County uses innovative financing to maximize cost savings from combined heat and power systems. Rather than buying the system outright, the County leases it from a third party contractor who owns, operates, and maintains it. The County then purchases the energy from that third party at a fixed cost, saving taxpayer dollars.

Utility Grid Resiliency

Montgomery County is coordinating more than $41 million in direct financial benefits and other policy commitments as a result of the merger of Pepco Holdings Incorporated and Exelon Corporation. These financial benefits include seed capital for the nation’s first Green Bank, funding for weatherization, workforce development, and other programs. Other policy commitments include improvements in reliability of the utility grid and plans to improve the resiliency of utility services to disruption from storms.

Leadership

Montgomery County is one of only two dozen partners in the U.S. Department of Energy’s new Better Buildings Accelerator. As a partner in the Combined Heat and Power for Resiliency Accelerator, the County is an early leader among local governments nationwide in the use of environmentally-friendly technologies that ultimately will enable the County to provide uninterrupted public safety services during major storms and power outages while saving energy and money.

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