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NYPA partners on several newly-funded microgrid projects

March 27, 2017 By Molly White in

This is a great article that was published in Public Power Daily regarding NY microgrid project funding.

The New York Power Authority will be a partner on several microgrid projects that received funding announced by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on March 23.

In his announcement, Cuomo detailed $11 million in funding for 11 microgrid projects across New York State as part of the second stage of the NY Prize Community Microgrid competition.

As part of the competition, each Stage 2 winner will receive $1 million through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which administers NY Prize, to conduct detailed engineering designs and business plans for a microgrid to bring local clean energy generation and backup power to their communities.

NY Prize applications came in from combinations of community organizations, local governments, non-profit entities, developers, for-profit companies and public power utilities.

NYPA will partner on three of the stage 2 microgrid projects. Specifically, NYPA will be a partner for projects at the Empire State Plaza in Albany, N.Y., the town of Huntington on Long Island and a project in New York City.

The Empire State Plaza has both a large heating and electric energy requirement “and provides a strong case for augmenting an existing steam plant with a combined heat and power system for a new microgrid,” a description of the project states.

Power would serve the plaza and possibly the Times Union Center, city hall, the courthouse, and the new convention center while also providing thermal energy for the plaza. The Empire State Plaza and Times Union Center could both be used as a refuge during a natural disaster or extended power outage.

Along with NYPA, other partners on this project are: Albany County, the Office of General Services, Clough Harbour Associates, Couch White LLC, City of Albany, Albany County Emergency Management Office, Pace Energy & Climate Center and National Grid.

With respect to the Town of Huntington, Huntington Village has suffered widespread power outages from storms in the last several years, including a power outage for more than eight days following Hurricane Sandy.

The proposed community microgrid would be powered by a new fuel cell, energy storage, solar photovoltaics, and highly efficient combined heat and power plants that use natural gas and biogas produced by the town’s wastewater treatment plant to produce both electric and thermal energy to the microgrid customers. “The near zero emissions of the fuel cell combined with the solar portion of this project will provide environmental benefits to the community,” a project description states.  

This mix of technologies would provide electricity and thermal energy to the town hall, a hospital, a wastewater treatment plant, a YMCA and a senior center, among others being evaluated.

Along with NYPA, the Huntington microgrid project partners include TRC Energy Services, National Grid and PSEG Long Island.

NYPA will provide financing directly for projects designated and implemented by the power authority.

The third project for which NYPA will serve as a partner is in New York City. Within 11 city blocks of Clarkson Avenue in Brooklyn, three hospitals provide medical and mental health services to the community: the New York State Office of Mental Health (Kingsboro Psychiatric Center), State University of New York (Downstate Medical Center), and Kings County Hospital Center.

Because they are both critical care providers and places of refuge during community emergencies, a resilient and reliable energy infrastructure is required.

These three organizations proposed a microgrid that will make use of combined heat and power and renewable sources, fuel cells, energy storage, and advanced transmission and distribution technologies.

The proposed microgrid will supply power and possible heating to the hospitals and possibly include Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and the George Wingate High School.

Besides NYPA, other partners on this project are: Burns Engineering, Customized Energy Solutions, Siemens, Luthin Associates, Matrix New World Engineering, Michael Barnas PLLC and Consolidated Edison.

“Microgrids are a key source of power for homes, businesses, hospitals and other vital facilities during weather events and other power outage emergencies. They are vital to our clean energy future,” said NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones.

“We need communities with creative local energy solutions – like these innovative microgrids – to partner with us in creating the energy system of today and tomorrow. These microgrid grant funds enable us as a state to move another step closer to our reliable, renewable energy goals,” he said.

“We, at NYPA, are especially proud to be working with the Town of Huntington as their energy advisor to help them design and plan their microgrid,” Quiniones said.

Other Long Island projects include public power communities

The other two microgrid projects on Long Island to receive funding will be in the public power communities of Rockville Centre and the Village of Freeport.

Rockville Centre provides power to approximately 11,000 electrical accounts. The community was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, according to the project’s description.

The proposed microgrid would include up to 700 kW of solar power, 6 to 12 MW of dual-fuel or gas-fired generation, as well as potential inclusion of energy storage, demand-side management, and/or combined heat and power. The planned microgrid would serve 2,900 residents and 34 critical facilities including the South Nassau Communities Hospital, police and fire services, village hall, assisted living center, and vital retail businesses.

The Village of Freeport incurred significant damage and power loss during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. With 43,000 residents in an area of only 4.5 square miles—one of the highest population densities on Long Island—Freeport is an ideal candidate for a microgrid, the project description states.

The proposed Freeport microgrid would, in addition to repowering the public power utility’s existing power plant, seek to deploy solar, wind, fuel cell, combined heat and power, and battery storage. Power will be distributed to the village’s LIRR station, telecommunications system, police and fire operations, four public schools, as well as more than 250 commercial and 150 residential parcels.

Partners for the Freeport project include the village’s public power utility.

NYSERDA awarded more than $8 mil for first stage of competition

NYSERDA awarded more than $8 million for Stage 1 of the competition to 83 communities across the state to conduct microgrid feasibility studies in 2015. Nearly 150 communities had applied for the initial stage of the competition.

Cuomo’s office said utilities played an active role in Stage 1 of the competition by identifying “grid opportunity zones,” or geographic areas where microgrids may reduce utility system constraints, and defer expensive infrastructure investment costs.  Utilities also assisted communities and other partners with submission of their applications. Funding for Stage 1 and Stage 2 totals nearly $20 million.

Stage 3 winners will have access to financing through NY Green Bank

Winners advancing to Stage 3 of the competition will have access to financing for microgrid construction through NY Green Bank.

A division of NYSERDA, NY Green Bank is a state-sponsored, specialized financial entity working with the private sector to increase investments into New York’s clean energy markets.

“Since community microgrids and clean energy projects are not easily financed through traditional capital providers like banks, access to NY Green Bank financing will be especially important to the completion of these critical projects,” the March 23 news release said.

NY Green Bank is prepared to facilitate up to $50 million in financing assistance per project to Stage 3 winners subject to its investment criteria, due diligence and financial analysis.

This announcement represents a significant increase in financial support for the build-out of project designs in Stage 3 of NY Prize, in addition to the $20 million available through NY Prize, Cuomo’s office said.

Stage 3 winners are expected to be announced by the end of 2018.

In the news release, Cuomo’s office noted that microgrids can provide critical power backup for homes, businesses, hospitals and other vital facilities during extreme weather events and emergencies, while supporting development of on-site renewable energy technologies. Additionally, microgrids support New York State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, Cuomo’s office said.

Additional details are available here.

Article Published By Paul Ciampoli , News Director

Public Power Daily