For five days after Hurricane Sandy hit on October 29, 2012, large swathes of Hoboken, N.J., remained underwater and in darkness. The small city covering five square kilometers hosts three substations for the regional electric grid, all of which were knocked out of service by flooding. Some residents had no electricity for as long as 15 days after the storm.
As Mayor Dawn Zimmer walked around her municipality surveying the damage, she vowed to come up with a backup plan to keep the lights on in a catastrophe. When federal government officials flooded in to tour the damage, Zimmer asked them to help her find a way to have at least a minimal amount of power remain on during storms, no matter what. As a result, she is now working with Sandia National Laboratories, local utility Public Service Electric & Gas Co., the Board of Public Utilities and renewable energy consultant Greener by Design to come up with a plan to put Hoboken, or at least a part of it, on its own power grid. Hoboken needs to be self-sustaining during a storm, Zimmer says, because whether it's stubbornness or lack of resources, people simply don't evacuate. "I thought if we had a safer, better system of sheltering in place, people could stay in their homes through the storm," Zimmer explains.
I want one!