New York City Seeks Developer for District Energy Microgrid

June 23, 2016
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is seeking proposals for a district energy microgrid for 28 buildings with 6,300 people on 39 acres in Brooklyn.

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is seeking proposals for a district energy microgrid for 28 buildings with 6,300 people on 39 acres in Brooklyn.

The microgrid will deliver heat, steam and electricity to part of the Red Hook neighborhood, which was pummeled during SuperStorm Sandy and lost eight steam plants.

Called the Red Hook Houses District Energy System, it may eventually become part of a community microgrid also planned for Red Hook. That project, the Red Hook Community Microgrid, was one of 83 microgrid projects to win $100,000 through the $40 million NY Prize competition.

For the district energy microgrid, NYCHA is seeking a partner to handle financing, design, construction, installation, operation and maintenance of the campus-style system, which will include combined heat and power (CHP), also known as cogeneration.

The district energy microgrid will serve 2,873 apartments as well as non-residential buildings, including retail spaces and a community center.

City officials say they hope the project will serve as a national model to demonstrate how public housing can cut energy costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A district energy system distributes steam, hot water and chilled water to multiple buildings from a central plant – sparing the buildings from each having their own systems. An accompanying CHP plant can produce electricity and heat for the system. CHP is an exceptionally efficient form of energy because it captures and uses the waste heat typically lost in electricity production.

“Installing a cogeneration and district energy system is one of the most efficient ways in NYC to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while ensuring a stable power supply,” said Nilda Mesa, director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “NYCHA will be harnessing the energy produced in multiple ways, and eliminating individual building systems, which is a smart way to set up a system that will be better to maintain and control.”

Specifically, the district energy microgrid will include two central generation plants, which will be housed in a flood-proofed building; two heat and power distribution networks, including a medium pressure steam distribution network and a medium voltage electrical distribution network; and backup generators.

The two medium voltage electrical networks will serve all 28 buildings at Red Hook Houses East and West. The networks will be independent from the main grid, and capable of future interconnection to the Red Hook Community Microgrid, which would be nearby. That microgrid was commissioned by the New York Power Authority and is being designed by the Brooklyn Community Board 6 and Red Hook NY Rising Committee.

[clickToTweet tweet=”NYC issues RFP for district energy #microgrid in Brooklyn.” quote=”NYC issues RFP for district energy #microgrid in Brooklyn.”]

“Red Hook residents and businesses have long suffered from frequent power outages. They hit our community particularly hard on NYCHA Red Hook East and West properties,” said Carlos Menchaca, New York City council member. “This request for proposals for a cogeneration and microgrid energy system is promising. It aligns with the resilience planning Red Hook residents have been conducting.”

Red Hook – where the median income is 47 percent that of New York City as a whole — experiences power outages more often than most of the city, according to NY Prize documentation. Above-ground lines are exposed and tend to hang low so are easily struck by trucks that drive through the industrial community. Wind, salt from the harbor, and other environmental conditions do harm to older, exposed transformers.

This district energy microgrid is meant to advance the goals of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to increase energy-efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emission and create growth, sustainability, resiliency, and equity for the city. Blasio’s One City Built to Last Plan calls for the city to work with utilities on microgrids and other distributed energy projects, such as CHP, fuel cells and battery storage.

NYCHA will hold a pre-proposal conference on the district energy microgrid at 1 p.m., June 29, at 250 Broadway, 12th Floor.

The housing authority is seeking the proposals in two parts to give applicants time to develop and elaborate on their proposals. The deadline for submitting Part 1 is July 22 and the deadline for submitting Part 2 is September 9

The request for proposals is available on NYCHA’s website. (See Request for Quotation 63757.)

For more information on CHP and district energy microgrids, see “The Energy Efficienct Microgrid,” a part of Microgrid Knowledge’s ‘Think Microgrid’ special report series.

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.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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