New York Offers $40M to Boost Community Microgrids

Feb. 12, 2015
New York is offering $40 million for community microgrids to cut energy costs and boost electric reliability, consumer choice, and energy efficiency.

New York is offering $40 million for community microgrids to cut energy costs and boost electric reliability, consumer choice, and energy efficiency.

Called the NY Prize, the program has been in the works since January 2014, when it was announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New York follows California, Connecticut and New Jersey in putting money on the table to get the fledgling microgrid industry underway. New York’s program focuses on complex, community microgrids.

Like other Northeastern states, New York is honing in on community microgrids as a way to keep the power flowing during storms. Superstorm Sandy piqued the state’s interest in microgrids and recent, severe snowstorms in the Northeast have heightened discussion.

“Having a reliable source of power is crucial when extreme weather strikes – and by launching this microgrid competition, we’re encouraging the development of more resilient energy networks across the state,” Cuomo said.

As local energy, microgrids also are key to the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a policy to create a new grid that uses a distributed energy market exchange.

The state will consider applications from local governments, community organizations, non-profit entities and businesses.

As a threshold, projects must be grid connected and serve multiple customers, including at least one critical infrastructure, such as a hospital, police station, fire station or water treatment facility.

Microgrid customers and distributed energy resources must lie within a clearly defined electrical boundary and act as a single controllable entity, which can operate in both grid-connected or island mode.

“By introducing and embracing information technology and clean energy solutions, such as microgrids, millions of New Yorkers will benefit from a 21st century power grid, enabling them to better manage and reduce their energy costs,” said Richard Kauffman, Cuomo’s chairman of energy and finance.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is administering the community microgrid solicitation, with support from Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery.

How it works

The competition offers funding in three phases: basic engineering studies, advanced engineering designs and support of the installation of a major on-site power system.

NYSERDA is seeking applications through May 15 for the first phase, which will provide up to $100,000 for about 25-30 communities to study project feasibility.

In the second phase, 10 communities will each receive $1 million to prepare a detailed engineering design and business plan. Projects do not have to pass the first phase to participate in the second.

In the third phase, NYSERDA anticipates awarding up to $25 million to support the construction of about five to seven community microgrids.

The local utility must be on board with the microgrid project — applications must include letters of commitment from the local utility, as well as local government.

Applicants also are required to show that they are eligible for funding from NYSERDA or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program.

In addition, New York requires that applicants demonstrate that the project provides a range of benefits. Some of these are:

  • Boosting competitive markets, new products and services and new business models
  • Offering utility system benefits, such as deferred capital expenses, reduced losses, improved power quality.
  • Enhancing resiliency during storms and outages
  • Improving local distribution system performance during normal conditions
  • Serving low-to-moderate income

Deadlines, Contacts and Webinar

A webinar to discuss details about the NY Prize competition will be held on Monday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. State officials will provide information about the program and examples of what are considered ideal locations for microgrids in New York.

NYSERDA anticipates announcing phase one awards in July.

Details have yet to be set for phases two and three. But NYSERDA expects to be accepting phase 2 proposals May 2015 through February 2016 and phase 3 proposals July 2015 through December 2017

Applicants seeking information can contact John Saintcross, 518-862-1090 ext: 3384. [email protected];  or Michael Razanousky, 518-862-1090 ext: 3245, [email protected]. Contractual questions should be directed to Nancy Marucci, (518) 862-1090 ext: 3335; [email protected].

The microgrid solicitation is available at

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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