Small Businesses in New York City Install Microgrids with RISE Funds

July 23, 2019
UGE International, Bright Power, Go Electric, Local Office Landscape, and Urban Design are developing microgrids for small businesses in New York City. The city is funding the microgrids to keep the businesses running when grid power is out.

UGE International recently signed a contract with the New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYEDC) to deploy 10 solar and battery storage microgrids in New York City, part of program boosting microgrids for small businesses in the city.

The contract grew out of NYEDC’s Resiliency Innovation for a Stronger Economy (RISE) program that was launched in 2014 in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to prepare small businesses for the impact of future storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change. In April 2015, NYEDC selected 11 projects via solicitation that will receive about $30 million in aggregate, including UGE’s microgrid project.

NYEDC awarded UGE a $1.7 million contract in 2017 to design and engineer the microgrid projects and now a second contract, valued at $2.7 million, to deploy the systems for small businesses throughout New York City that were affected by Sandy. The names of the businesses have not been released.

Gifted to small businesses

Generally speaking, the businesses are retail stores and restaurants, Nick Blitterswyk, UGE’s CEO, said via email. In all, the 10 different systems total about 500 kW with the largest 100 kW and the smallest 15 kW, he said.

As a fully funded project, there is no ongoing source of revenue for the systems, Blitterswyk said. “In essence, the small businesses were gifted the systems.”

The systems include solar panels, lithium-ion batteries provided by Simpliphi, and natural gas generators. Construction of some of the systems will begin this year. UGE expects all to be complete within 2020, Blitterswyk said.

Microgrids across the five boroughs of New York City

Other microgrids are being built as a result of the RISE program, including projects by Bright Power, Go Electric, Local Office Landscape, and Urban Design. All have contracts, signed in 2016, to design and install building scale microgrids for Sandy-impacted small businesses across the five boroughs of New York City, NYEDC spokesman Chris Singleton said via email. Most of the projects are located in coastal areas of Brooklyn and Queens, such as Red Hook, Coney Island and the Rockaways.

While most of the New York City projects are still in the design phase, Bright Power is in the process of building two RISE funded projects in Brooklyn. The company is installing microgrids at Linda Tool and at Banner Smoked Fish.

Resilient power hubs

The microgrids, which Bright Power refers to as resilient power hubs are small-scale hybrid power plants that provide buildings with instantaneous back-up power to critical systems when the grid goes down, as well as energy savings the rest of the time. The system can operate as part of or independent from the utility grid. The technology combines solar photovoltaics, cogeneration and energy storage.

The Linda Tool microgrid consists of a 7 kW solar array, a 10 kW cogeneration unit and a 48 kWh energy storage system with an 18 kW inverter. The Banner Smoked Fish microgrid consists of an 11 kW solar array, a 10 kW cogeneration unit and a 60 kWh energy storage system with a 30 kW inverter.

Bright Power says its first fully operational resilient power hub was turned on earlier this year at a 126-unit supportive and affordable housing property in the Bronx, owned by Community Access. Another is being designed into a 380-unit affordable housing property in Queens developed by Omni New York.

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About the Author

Peter Maloney

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