New York Taps $140M Fund to Tackle Distributed Energy Interconnection Woes

Oct. 20, 2016
New York plans to tackle distributed energy interconnection – a big source of industry headaches – in the first round of money tapped from its $140 million grid modernization fund.

New York plans to tackle distributed energy interconnection – a big source of industry headaches – in the first round of money tapped from its $140 million grid modernization fund.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) issued a solicitation today offering $3.5 million for innovations that make interconnection less costly and onerous for microgrids, solar, combined heat and power and other distributed energy resources.

The state sees interconnection as a stumbling block as it attempts to create a decentralized grid through its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) policy.

Distributed energy projects are “increasingly required to make expensive and time consuming electric grid infrastructure upgrades before they can be interconnected,” said the request for proposals (RFP).

Earlier this year, NYSERDA reported to state regulators “a growing backlog” of projects in interconnection queues across the state, in its grid modnerization investment plan (Matter No. 16-00681, NY DPS).

New York hopes to connect 3,000 MW of distributed energy resources by 2023. NYSERDA is concerned that the interconnecton backlog could slow market growth, as happened to Hawaii’s solar industry in 2014.

“A critical part of modernizing our grid is to make it easier for renewable energy systems to integrate into it, especially as Governor Cuomo’s REV strategy encourages more of them to come online,” said John Rhodes, NYSERDA president and CEO. “This initiative will provide us with much needed solutions to connect more clean renewable energy sources to the electric grid.”

In solving the distributed energy interconnection problem, the state is trying to balance safety, reliability and grid transformation.

The state is offering $3.5 million for research, engineering studies, product development and demonstration projects. It is particularly interested in interconnection of commercial and industrial scale distributed energy (greater than 200 kW).

NYSERDA says it seeks proposals “to overcome identified and as-yet-unidentified engineering and other technical challenges as it continues to connect distributed energy resources, such as combined heat and power, solar and community-based microgrids.”

New York already is working with ‘ombudspeople’ at state energy agencies and utilities to address problems with specific projects. Utility ombudspeople recently developed interactive maps that show areas of possible constraints for developers who want to interconnect to the grid.

In addition, DPS has published interconnection inventory data and overall interconnection summary information on its website.

The state also has formed an Interconnection Technical Working Group, which includes utilities and renewable energy companies.

RFP bids are due to NYSERDA November 28. The RFP is available at NYDERDA’s Current Funding Listing (PON 3404).

NYSERDA’s distributed energy interconnection effort marks the first of two phases in its $141 million grid modernization plan, as described in the investment plan the agency filed with the Department of Public Services in May. The second phase, yet to be detailed, will focus on the broader range of grid modernization topics including innovation in sensing, communications, and diagnostics.

The $141 million grid modernization project is funded through the state’s 10-year, $5.3 billion Clean Energy Fund.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

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