Nassau, New York, could be the first town in the United States voluntarily to go completely off the grid.
The town board is so fed up with unreliable service from the local utility that it is planning to look into installation of an off-grid source of electricity.
“We have a crumbling energy infrastructure,” town supervisor David Fleming told The Albany Times-Union.
Electricity in Nassau, a town of 12,123 people just southeast of Albany, often goes out during storms because of aging equipment owned by utility National Grid.
On Dec. 10, the board plans to create a committee that will investigate alternatives to National Grid. Some of the alternatives it will look into include solar panels and a small wind farm at the town dump. The town also plans to reach out to companies such as General Electric, which is developing large-scale fuel cell technology in upstate New York.
“We’re willing to be a guinea pig for this model,” Fleming said. “It’s certainly an achievable goal.”
Off the Grid by 2020
The ultimate goal is to have Nassau completely off the grid  by 2020, Fleming said. Officials are not sure how they would do that, but the state of New York is ready to help.
“New York is working to expand the use of smaller, cleaner (distributed energy resources), including micro grids, which will help New York meet its clean energy standard of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030,” said Jan Sorensen, a spokesman for New York’s utility regulator, the Public Service Commission. A micro grid is an independent electric system which has its own power source.
New York state law allows communities to disconnect from the grid and set up their own electrical grids, Sorensen noted. Elsewhere, Boulder, Colorado, has been trying to pull the plug on electricity service from Xcel Energy for a number of years.
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