N.Y. awards 83 grants to create community microgrids

Source: Colin Sullivan, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 10, 2015

New York yesterday awarded $8.3 million in $100,000 increments to 83 entities looking to explore and possibly build a community-supported microgrid.

The awards came under a prize competition concocted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) energy team that will move forward in three stages.

The first stage, announced yesterday, will allow those selected — including local governments, public utilities, community organizations and others — to study the feasibility of a microgrid. Those that move forward into stage 2 would get engineering support and more funding, with stage 3 victors winning state money for project construction.

A microgrid is a stand-alone energy system that operates independently of the traditional electric grid. The idea is to avoid widespread outages and give local entities more flexibility to connect to renewable power, storage and other technologies.

All the winners will have to integrate their proposed grids with utility networks and serve multiple customers, including at least one piece of “critical infrastructure,” which means a hospital, a police station, a fire station or a water treatment plant.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is behind the competition, which generated applications from over 130 cities, villages, towns and municipalities for stage 1.

New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman — also known as the state’s “energy czar” — heralded the development as another example of how the state’s “reforming the energy vision,” or REV, will bring “resilient and affordable power solutions for communities from the South Fork on Long Island to Buffalo and the North Country.”

The awards were spread all over the state, with the Hudson Valley and mid-state netting the most winners at 23 followed by Long Island with 14 and New York City with nine.

The projects will have six to eight months to assess the technical, operational and financial feasibility of their proposed community microgrid. These studies are meant to uncover the most favorable technical configurations, as well as immediate opportunities for energy efficiency and distributed energy installations.

After studies are complete, the entities can apply for more funding as part of stage 2.

Click here for a full list of project winners.