April 10, 2023 • In the News

Brief power outages are often just an inconvenience. But longer ones can be disastrous.

Sari Kayyali is with GreenRoots, a nonprofit based in the small city of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

“There’s a lot of folks in Chelsea who have family in, say, Puerto Rico, who have seen the effects that losing power for an extended period of time can have there,” he says.

So to help avoid a similar situation in Chelsea, Kayyali’s group is working with the city to develop a microgrid system that will power emergency services and public buildings.

They’re starting by installing solar panels and battery storage at the police station, city hall, and 911 call center. And they plan to add more buildings in future phases.

“Each building is its own island,” Kayyali says. “And so, say the power goes out to that area. Each building would have its own battery on site with its own solar and have its own source of backup.”

Kayyali says the system will not just be helpful in an emergency. At any time, buildings can disconnect from the main grid individually or as a group — for example, when energy demand is high and grid electricity is at its most expensive.

So Kayyali says the system will save Chelsea money and make it more resilient in a disaster.