New York Continues Grid Shake-up with Plans for New Electric Power Research Lab

March 30, 2015
New York continues to show how serious it is about shaking up the electricity sector, this time with plans to build a major electric power research lab that will delve beyond status quo grid operations.

Credit: SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

New York continues to show how serious it is about shaking up the electricity sector, this time with plans to build a major electric power research lab.

The New York Power Authority has pledged $35 million for the facility, which it will create in partnership with the State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute.

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Called the Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe), the facility will delve beyond status quo grid operations. Its mission dovetails with the state’s closely watched plans to reshape the electric grid through Reforming the Energy Vision. An evolving policy more commonly known as REV, it transforms the centralized grid into one bolstered by local energy: microgrids, solar, energy storage and other distributed energy resources.

Researchers at the new lab will focus on integrating clean and distributed energy into the grid. In doing so, the new lab will depart from traditional R&D, which tends to focus on large central power plants and transmission lines, according to a news release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The lab will test and simulate such technologies as microgrids, advanced transmission system monitoring sensors, and electric vehicle stations to better understand their impact on the grid. The idea is to advance the technologies, lower grid improvement costs, enhance power reliability and quality, increase energy efficiency, and strengthen the grid against cyberattacks and other threats.

Like other Northeastern states and California, New York hopes to attract coveted high tech jobs through the lab and other energy innovations it is undertaking.

NYPA also will use the lab as a setting to pursue its own electric power R&D and foster research important to transmission system operators, utilities, software and hardware manufacturers, government agencies and universities.

“The entire power system is changing at a fast pace, driven by technology and customer expectations,” said Gil Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO. “AGILe will represent a quantum leap forward in realizing the full value of central generation & transmission and distributed energy resources.”

Below is a Q&A from NYPA that further explains plans for the research lab.

What is AGILe?

The Advanced Grid Innovation Laboratory for Energy (AGILe) is the state’s first electric power research and development facility. It will use Big Data analytics to simulate, develop, deploy and integrate the next-generation electric grid and position New York State as a global center for electric grid research.

AGILe is one of four strategic recommendations of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Energy Highway Task Force and supports his landmark Reforming the Energy Vision (“REV”) initiative.  REV will provide a new regulatory framework to actively spur clean energy innovation, bring in new investments and improve consumer choice, while protecting the environment and energizing New York’s economy at the state and local levels.

NYPA will provide $35 million in funding for AGILe and manage the laboratory.  AGILe will be built and operated by the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly) in Albany.

Why AGILe?

As smart grid technologies increasingly become part of the electric supply landscape, faster acquisition and processing of real-time operational data will be required to ensure the grid’s reliability. By simulating the impact of expected changes to the grid, AGILe researchers can design shareware and software system improvements to accommodate these emerging technologies.

What are the benefits of AGILe?

Smart grid technology testing by AGILe will:

  • Help transmission and distribution operators identify ways to reduce strains on the system during peak usage periods
  • Reduce the cost of transmission and distribution congestion by increasing access to lower-cost generating resources
  • Expedite the integration of renewable-energy resources into the grid
  • Expand grid-scale energy storage options
  • Advance the deployment and reduce the cost of new, small-scale, clean generation
  • Increase access to sustainable green power resources statewide
  • Attract private-sector technology companies in the energy, information and communications sectors, utilities, grid operators and university research institutions to invest in and conduct cutting-edge research and development at AGILe.

Why did NYPA partner with SUNY Poly?

  • NYPA is recognized as an industry leader in electro-technology innovation and SUNY Poly is a world-renowned institution engaged in cutting-edge research in nanotechnology and clean energy.
  • NYPA and SUNY Poly have an established relationship. They recently partnered to launch the New York Energy Manager Network Operations Center initiative (NYEM). Located at SUNY Poly, and administered by NYPA, it provides operators of public facilities across New York State with real-time energy usage data that allows them to make energy efficiency decisions to comply with Governor Cuomo’s directive to reduce energy use in public buildings 20 percent by 2020.
  • As New York State entities, NYPA and SUNY Poly share an interest in promoting R&D and deployment of smart grid technologies that will benefit the State and support State priorities.
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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