UMass Amherst Electrical Microgrid Services

For over a decade, CHA has played a pivotal role in microgrid development at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst campus. Initially tasked with enhancing the cogeneration facilities' operation, the collaboration expanded to encompass evaluations, system hardening, and expansion efforts. CHA addressed issues causing instability in gas and steam turbine plants during grid-parallel operation and facilitated a transition to high-voltage transmission, reducing disruptions and enhancing power capacity. Supporting UMass in securing financial and technical support from the local utility, CHA oversaw the design and construction of a 100MVA Tilson transmission substation.

Integral to the power generation mix are distributed energy resources. CHA provided electrical design support for the installation of approximately 5MW of solar PV across buildings and parking canopies. Utilizing a power purchase agreement, CHA's innovative control system ensures efficient PV use and compliance with the campus's energy requirements. We also implemented a 1MW/4MWh battery energy storage system, enhancing microgrid resilience, reducing electric demand, and lowering utility costs during peak load periods.

Project summary


Installation of 5 MW of solar photovoltaic across campus.

>10 yrs.

Supporting microgrid development at UMass for over 10 years.


Design and construction of a 100MVA Tilson transmission substation.

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Brian McKenna, PE*

Brian McKenna, PE*
Vice President, Senior Project Manager, Senior Principal Engineer

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Brian has over three decades of experience in power generation, mechanical systems, and electrical engineering. He primarily supports electrical transmission and distribution projects, including substation design, and combined heat and power projects. Brian is proficient in renewable energy generation and has been involved with many campus microgrid projects.