NY Prize Stage 1 Awards: Who, Why and What’s it Mean for Community Microgrids

July 9, 2015
The NY Prize had originally planned to award 25 communities first stage funding. But when more than 130 applications poured in — and many of them were strong candidates — the state instead awarded money to 83 community microgrid projects.

New York showed itself as the nation’s leader in community microgrid development July 8 by awarding funds for an unprecedented 83 projects through its $40 million NY Prize.

No other state has made such a vigorous foray into this type of microgrid, which focuses largely on keeping critical facilities up and running in a community when the central grid fails.

The New York State Research and Development Authority had originally planned to award 25 community microgrids $100,000 each for feasibility studies, the first round of funding in the three-stage NY Prize.  But when more than 130 applications poured in, the state increased the initial pool.

Micah Kotch, director of NY Prize and NYSERDA’s strategic adviser for innovation, said the state decided to increase the number of awards because of the strength of the submissions.

“It is certainly a pleasant surprise that NYSERDA encouraged so many communities to apply and that they have awarded more feasibility study grants than expected,” said Sally Jacquemin, microgrid business manager for Siemens, which is partnering in 16 projects that received Stage 1 funding. “This demonstrates the commitment of NY leadership in developing resilient communities across the state.”

She also attributed the early success of the NY Prize to the fact that industry partners came together to approach communities and support the application process.

“There is not only interest from communities but also from engineering firms, consultants, technology companies and more to develop these projects,” Jacquemin said.

The field will narrow as projects vie for additional funding in the next two NY Prize stages. Projects that win Stage 2 funding will receive $1 million for design and Stage 3 winners will win $7 million toward construction.

But even the initial $100,000 awards could kickstart those that do not win in the next stages and help them attract private capital or other NY state clean energy funds.

“Energy infrastructure requires large capital investments and even in the projects that will win, the NYSERDA contribution is unlikely to be the main financing component,” said Dirk van Ouwerkerk, lead partner for Anbaric Microgrid, which is partnering on projects on Long Island and Staten Island that won the feasibilty study money. “Most importantly, the NY Prize provides an institutional context and support that is required for other investors, both private and public, to step to the fore.”

Many well-known companies in the microgrid space are teaming with the local communities to work on the projects, among them Anbaric, Burns Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, Eaton, IPERC, GE Energy, Green Energy Group, Landis & Gyr, NRG Energy, OBG, Power Analytics, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Spirae and Viridity Energy.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA),  Long Island Power Authority and utilites in the states also are participating in the teams, as well as organizations active in energy, such as Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Microgrid Institute, and the Pace Energy & Climate Center.

New York has been an early national leader in microgrid development with its Reforming the Energy Vision, a sweeping regulatory change that elevates use of microgrids and distributed energy.  The strong showing in the first stage of the NY Prize is likely to draw attention from other states considering microgrids.

“Many states are watching this program to learn from it and determine if similar programs may benefit their communities.  It’s important to link the success of the NY Prize to proposed regulatory changes – if both are successful, we’ll see other states follow in NY’s footsteps,” Jacquemin said.

Project Locations

As the map below shows,  projects are located statewide, but they tend to cluster in the high population and energy-dense south eastern part of the state. This area, particularly New York City and Long Island, lends itself to distributed generation because there is little room — and tolerance among residents — for large, centralized power plants or transmission.

Graphic courtesy of NY Prize

The contest stayed with its original intent, focusing largely on microgrids that keep power flowing in a crisis to critical facilities like hospitals, emergency shelters, water treatment centers, and telecommunications systems.

Some communities extend microgrid services to nearby homes, among them Brooklyn, Syracuse and Wappinger Falls.

In the Chelsea area of Manhattan, a Google-owned building plans to build a microgrid to serve its 2.9 million square feet which encompasses a medical facility and telecommunications center.  The project includes solar, CHP, fuel cell and energy storage technology. Partners in the project are Schneider Electric, Consolidated Edison, NYPA, Energy & Resource Solutions, the City of New York,  One City Block, Beth Israel Medical Center.

The projects serve a range a range of customer types from homes to manufacturers to emergency facilities grocery stores, schools, hospitals, food processing plants, airports, prisons and libraries. Many use renewable energy, as well as combined heat and power, diesel and natural gas-fired generation.

Below are the winnning projects in New York City and Long Island.

Long Island

1. The Village of Babylon lost power for several days after Hurricane Sandy. The proposed microgrid would use conventional generation as well as solar, energy storage, and fuel cells. Power from the proposed microgrid would be provided to Babylon Village Hall, the village fire station, highway and sanitation departments, Babylon EMS Response, the Babylon Union Free School District, St. Joseph’s Church/School complex, and the American Legion Hall. Partners: Village of Babylon, PSEG Long Island, National Grid, Metropolitan Transport Authority, New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), Suffolk County, and Town of Babylon

 2. 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 feasibility study will evaluate adding methane and natural gas fired generation with waste heat recovery, solar power, and energy storage technologies. This mix of technologies would provide electricity and thermal energy to the town hall, Huntington Hospital, Huntington Wastewater Treatment Plant, Huntington YMCA, and Flanagan Senior Center, among others being evaluated. Partners: Town of Huntington, PSEG Long Island, National Grid, Huntington Hospital, and Huntington YMCA.

3. East Hampton’s South Fork community has suff ered signifi cant power outages from coastal storms in the last several years, including an outage lasting seven days during Hurricane Sandy. The proposed microgrid would include a mix of solar, wind, advanced battery storage, and intelligent load and grid management, in addition to existing back-up generators. Facilities receiving power from the proposed microgrid include the town hall, the police substation, emergency operations center, emergency medical facility, police garage and fuel facility, the justice court, multiple auxiliary local government buildings, a drinking water well-fi eld and pumping station, a telephone utility central station, two fi re departments, and two schools. Partners: East Hampton Town Police Department, East Hampton Village Police Department, East Hampton Healthcare Foundation, Southampton Hospital, Verizon, Suffolk County Water Authority, East Hampton School District, Amagansett School District, East Hampton Fire Department, Amagansett Fire Department, Renewable Energy Long Island, and PSEG Long Island.

4. The Village of Greenport is located on the east end of the north fork of Long Island, with a municipal electric utility that serves about 2,000 customers, and has its own oil-fired 6.8 MW power plant. Greenport lost power during Hurricane Irene, had substantial outages after Hurricane Sandy, and has had periodic non-storm related outages. Greenport’s proposed microgrid would include a new liquefi ed natural gas-fueled generator and a combination of existing and proposed wind, solar, and energy storage resources that would provide power to Eastern Long Island Hospital, a regional wastewater treatment plant, and a fire department station. Partners: The Village of Greenport and Global Common, LLC, which is supported by GE Energy Consulting, Burns Group, Inc., and D&B Engineers and Architects, Inc

5. Located on the north shore of Long Island, the Village of Port Jefferson has experienced widespread and extended power outages as a result of extreme weather events, including Hurricanes Sandy and Irene. The proposed microgrid would incorporate a mix of existing and new combined heat and power, solar, and energy storage. It would provide electric and thermal energy to selected critical facilities during both normal operating conditions and during disruptions to the main or local grids, including St. Charles Hospital and Mather Hospital, Mary Haven Center of Hope, Port Jefferson School District, Suffolk County Wastewater Treatment Plan, Bridgeport-Port Jeff erson ferry, the fire station, and village hall. Partners: D&B Engineers and Architects, Burns Engineering, GE Energy
Consulting, and Global Common LLC

 6. The Town of Brookhaven and Sachem School District have suff ered significant power outages from both warm-weather storms and winter nor’easters. The proposed microgrid would provide power to the town hall to enable it to act as an emergency operations center and for two adjacent Sachem schools to function as emergency shelters. Technology would include solar panels and two existing 10 kW wind turbines, fuel cells, battery storage, and/or microturbines powered by the onsite wastewater treatment plant. The project would also incorporate sophisticated monitoring software operated by Brookhaven National Laboratory that will maximize the cost-benefi t of the electrical generation and storage capacity components of the microgrid. Partners: Town of Brookhaven, Sachem School District, and Brookhaven National Laboratory

7. Southampton has suffered significant power outages from storms in the last several years, including being out of power for up to seven days during Hurricane Sandy. The town will explore a mix of power generation sources with emphasis on renewables. For existing power generation infrastructure, existing natural gas supplies at partner locations, such as Southampton Hospital, provide potential for combined heat and power. The proposed microgrid would provide power to the town hall, police station, three fi re stations, village hall, library, emergency medical facility, hospital complex, department of public works complex, three school complexes, and a wastewater treatment plant. Partners: Town of Southampton, Village of Southampton, Southampton Hospital, Rogers Memorial Library, the Southampton School District, Suff olk County, and PSEG Long Island.

8. The Long Island Community Microgrid Project (LICMP) in East Hampton would provide energysupport to a community susceptible to storm damage year round. The proposed microgrid would receive up to 50 percent of its electric energy requirements from local solar — avoiding hundreds of millions of dollars in transmission investments that otherwise would be required under a traditional approach to delivering power to this grid-constrained community. Technology would include up to 15 MW of local solar, a 25-MWh energy storage system, and other distributed energy resources (DER). Critical services include two Suff olk County Water Authority (SCWA) water pumping and filtration plants and the Springs Fire District facility.Partners: PSEG Long Island, Long Island Power Authority, Suff olk County Water Authority, and the Springs Fire District.

9. The City of Long Beach was devastated by Hurricane Sandy, which caused estimated damages of $200 million to city facilities and infrastructure and total damages to all of Long Beach likely exceeding $1 billion. Vital services (including utilities, water, and sewage systems) were out of service for several weeks and police, fire, and emergency responder facilities were rendered inoperable without power. The proposed microgrid would include combined heat and power, fuel cell, solar, and energy storage, combined with demand-management technology. Power from the proposed microgrid would be provided to city hall, police/fire headquarters, water/wastewater treatment plants, and aff ordable housing. Partners: NRG Energy, Inc., City of Long Beach, Long Beach Housing Authority, MTA Long Island Railroad, and PSEG Long Island.

10. Located on a peninsulaiin the Town of North Hempstead, Port Washington Village is highly vulnerable to severe weather and experiences regular electrical outages. The proposed microgrid would use solar, energy storage, energy effi ciency, and natural gas generation. Power from the proposed microgrid would be provided to local police and fire offi ces, a water treatment center, several school buildings, an animal shelter, a library, the Landmark on Main which is a cultural resource, and senior-housing center. Partners: Town of North Hempstead, Residents For a More Beautiful Port Washington, Port Washington Police Department, the Port Washington Fire Department, The Port Washington Water District, The Port Washington School District, the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter, Port Washington Library, and the Landmark on Main.

11. In the Village of East Rockaway, The Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant received signifi cant damage from Hurricane Sandy, requiring the rebuilding of four engines that provided power to the plant through natural gas-powered electric generation. Since the storm, the plant has been powered by rented natural gas generators. The proposed microgrid would combine natural gas generation with a newly-installed biogas-to-power engine, powered by gas created through waste anaerobic digestion, along with combined heat and power technology for greater efficiency. The microgrid would provide power to the treatment plant, East Rockaway Village Hall, two elementary schools, a fire department, a post offi ce, a public library, and a public works facility. Partners: Nassau County, Village of East Rockaway, United Water Long Island, LIPA, National Grid, and PSEG Long Island.

12. One of three municipally-owned electric utilities on Long Island, Rockville Centre provides power to approximately 11,000 electrical accounts. The community was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The proposed microgrid would include up to 700 kW of solar power, six to 12 MW of dual-fuel or gas fi red generation, as well as potential inclusion of energy storage, demand-side management, and/or combined heat and power. Power recipients could include South Nassau Communities Hospital, police and fi re services, village hall, assisted living center, and vital retail businesses. Partners: Village of Rockville Centre, RRT SIGMA, and Arup.

13 .The Town of Hempstead’s Point Lookout and Lido Beach barrier island communities have experienced many years of storm impacts, including power outages due to Hurricane Sandy, which left them without natural gas service for over a week and without electrical service for over two weeks. A mix of generation sources will be assessed for the proposed microgrid including wind, solar, hydrogen station assets in the Town’s Energy Park, battery storage, additional generators, fuel cells, and/or cogeneration. The microgrid would provide power to critical community facilities including the Point Lookout/Lido Beach Fire Station, the Town’s Water District Well #1 & #2 Main Treatment Plant, and the Town’s Department of Conservation and Waterways Administration and Marina facilities, which serve as an off -base hub for the Nassau County Police Department and Bay Constables, along with providing support and staging for incoming emergency support teams. Partners: Hempstead’s Department of Conservation and Waterways, Department of Water, and the Lido and Point Lookout Fire District.
14. The Village of Freeport incurred signifi cant damage and power loss during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. With 43,000 residents in an area of only four-and-a-half square miles – one of the highest population densities on Long Island – Freeport is an ideal candidate for a microgrid. The proposed Freeport microgrid would, in addition to repowering the municipal electric utility’s existing power plant, will 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: Village of Freeport, Freeport Electric, Anbaric Microgrid, Arup, and National Grid.

New York City

15. In the Bronx, The Hunts Point Food Distribution Center is New York City’s primary hub for food supply storing up to 60 percent of the region’s produce, meat, and fish. The proposed microgrid would include combined heat and power, steam absorption chillers for cooling, rooftop solar, and a smart grid of intelligent meters and switchgear. The team will also explore the opportunity to expand the microgrid to include nearby businesses, such as the Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, community refuge facilities, and other locations in the residential area. Partners: NYC Economic Development Corporation, NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Consolidated Edison of New York, the Produce Market Co-op, Meat Market Co-op, the New Fulton Fish Market, and The Point CDC.

16. In the East Bronx, this microgrid will be a district energy system that would provide utilities to Weiler Hospital, Jacobi Medical Center, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Calvary Hospital. Although on-site generation is available, the proposed microgrid will mitigate risk of single generators failing during prolonged outages. In addition, the site is located in an area which is experiencing stress on the transmission and distribution system. The proposed microgrid would include combined heat and power, solar, battery systems, steam turbine generators, and heat recovery steam generators. The project will also leverage the existing steam generation plants at four hospitals. Partners: Gotham Energy 360, Van Zelm Engineers, and Environmental Engineering Solutions.

17. A low-income community, the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn was severely impacted by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene with power outages lasting for weeks. The proposed microgrid would integrate a variety of both commercial and residential distributed generation sources, including solar power. Recipients of power would include Good Shepherd Services Miccio Cornerstone Community Center, Red Hook Initiative, Visitation Church, Ikea, Addabbo Family Health Center, Red Hook Public Library, South Brooklyn Community High School, as well as low income community residents and other facilities. Partners: The Friends of Brooklyn Community Board 6, the Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Plan, Smarter Grid Solutions, and IMG Rebel.

18.Within 11 city blocks of Clarkson Avenue in Brooklyn, three hospitals provide medical and mental health services to the community: the New York State Offi ce of Mental Health (Kingsboro Psychiatric Center), State University of New York (Downstate Medical Center), and Kings County Hospital Center. As providers of critical care and places of refuge during emergencies that impact the local community, a resilient and reliable energy infrastructure is required for these facilities. These three organizations propose a microgrid that would make use of combined heat and power and renewable sources, energy storage, and advanced transmission and distribution technologies. The proposed microgrid would supply power and possible heating to the hospitals. The study will also consider the possible inclusion of Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center and the George Wingate High School. Partners: New York State Office of Mental Health, State University of New York, and Kings County Hospital Center.

19. The Brownsville, Van Dyke, and Tilden housing complexes and surrounding community in Brooklyn are a high-density population that presents the opportunity to reduce grid demand through a microgrid, as well as a low-cost alternative to expensive replacement of an aging substation. The proposed microgrid would make use of renewable energy, energy storage, and energy-efficiency measures at critical facilities and multi-family housing units. The microgrid would provide power to a health care facility, a library, three emergency shelters, 57 multi-family aff ordable housing buildings, and single family residential buildings in the surrounding community. Partners: Con Edison, Brooklyn Alliance for Sustainable Energy, New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, New York City Housing Authority, Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center, and Brooklyn Public Library.

20 The Two Bridges/Beyond the Grid Community Microgrid would serve a mix of public and private residential, institutional, and commercial sites in Manhattan along Avenue C between East 10th Street and East 14th Street in the East Village, all of which were impacted by flooding and/or electrical outages as a result of Hurricane Sandy. The proposed microgrid would include a mix of natural gas and renewable generation sources, including combined heat and power, energy storage, and demand-side efficiency measures, and would serve three public schools, community center, pharmacy, supermarket, and a variety of apartment buildings. Partners: New York City Housing Authority, L+M Development Partners, New
York City Department of Education, Village East Towers, LES Ready, University Settlement, and Con Edison.

21. This project includes a 2.9 million-square-foot building located in the Chelsea area of Manhattan between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and 15th and 16th Streets. It is owned by Google and includes medical facilities as well as critical telecommunications equipment. The proposed microgrid would include solar, combined heat and power, fuel cell, and energy storage technology to serve the building’s diverse tenant base. Partners: Energy & Resource Solutions, City of New York, One City Block, New York Power Authority, Beth Israel Medical Center, Schneider Electric, and Con Edison.

22. Sunnyside Yard in Queens lost power for a month from Hurricane Sandy, and a week in 2006 due to equipment failure. The proposed microgrid would include an existing 250 kW back-up diesel generator and proposed assets, including solar and combined heat and power, and would provide power to the Sunnyside Yard Facility, schools, a public housing complex, gas stations, and a grocery store. Partners: Booz Allen Hamilton, Con Edison, Viridity Energy, Verde Advisory, Amtrak, and New York City.

23.  The Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) – North Campus continued operations throughout Hurricane Sandy, preserving patient safety even as fl oodwaters came within inches of causing a major power outage. Recognizing this vulnerability and the critical need for SIUH North Campus to remain resilient in the face of future storms, SIUH’s proposed microgrid project would fortify the hospital’s existing power plant while providing additional capacity for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and conservation measures. Power could serve three public schools, FDNY Engine Company 159, NYC Housing Authority’s South Beach and Berry Houses, two City Environmental Protection pump houses, and the South Beach
Psychiatric Center. Partners: Staten Island University Hospital, Louis Berger, Sega, and Anbaric Microgrid.

Details can be found here on projects in the Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, North Country, Southern Tier,  Mohawk Valley, Central New York, Finger Lakes and Western New York.

To learn more about community microgrids, see our new report,  Community Microgrids: A Guide for Mayors and City Leaders Seeking Clean, Reliable and Locally Controlled Energy,” available as a free download, courtesy of  the International District Energy Association (IDEA) and OBG.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is the editor and founder of EnergyChangemakers.com. She is co-founder and former editor of Microgrid Knowledge.

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