The Sacramento Municipal Utility District\u2019s Board Nov. 4 approved a project to test the feasibility of integrating a microgrid system into its larger utility electrical supply system. \u201cThis is the first project within the United States to be tested in the field,\u201d said Kim Crawford, SMUD\u2019s environmental management department project manager. Among the benefits of a microgrid, she said, are power reliability and the ability to be isolated from the main grid in the event of local power grid problems. The pilot project is to test both the muni\u2019s existing central heating and cooling plant and \u201coperation and control concepts and components of a microgrid system,\u201d according to Crawford. A microgrid is a localized grouping of electricity sources and loads that normally operate with the traditional centralized grid through a single point of common coupling, but can also disconnect and function separately. As part of the project, SMUD plans to install and operate three natural gas-fired engine-generator sets, totaling 300 kW, for use in an existing heating and cooling plant. An absorption chiller, small cooling tower and a trailer-mounted zinc bromine flow battery capable of supplying 500 kW for six hours are also to be added to the system. \u201cIt\u2019s designed to transfer seamlessly between the connection with SMUD\u2019s power grid and isolated islanding operation,\u201d Crawford said of the system. \u201cWe\u2019ll be operating this microgrid project for about 12 to 18 months to collect performance data,\u201d said Mike Ross of SMUD\u2019s energy development group. The project is co-funded by a California Energy Commission grant. In conjunction with the project\u2019s approval, the board also adopted a California Environmental Quality Act study that found the project would not expand the heating and cooling plant\u2019s environmental footprint. The approval vote was 5-0. Board members Larry Carr and Rob Kerth were absent. Also during the meeting, the board unanimously approved a 20-year gas purchase contract with EIF KC Landfill Gas to buy up to 7,050 MMBtu\/day of renewable landfill gas, with deliveries beginning in 2014. \u201cThe gas would come from a landfill facility near Kansas City, Missouri,\u201d board member Howard Posner said. \u201cIt meets the Energy Commission\u2019s renewable portfolio standard, and would be a long-term contributor to SMUD\u2019s renewable goals.\u201d The gas is to flow into the Kern River interstate pipeline capacity at Opal, Wyoming. \u201cSMUD has capacity from that point to the Cosumnes Power Plant,\u201d according to the muni. Last week\u2019s meeting was the first since the Nov. 2 statewide election, during which four SMUD board members--Carr, Posner, Genevieve Shiroma, and Bill Slaton--were elected to new four-year terms. All but Shiroma ran unopposed. The board\u2019s other three members, Nancy Bui-Thompson, Kerth, and Renee Nunes Taylor, are up for re-election in 2012.