Each Winner in NY Microgrid Competition gets $100k

May 03, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

New York announced funding for five energy microgrids across New York State as part of the first phase of the NY Prize Community Microgrid Competition. Microgrids provide critical energy backup for local community networks during extreme weather events or emergencies. The recipients of the $500,000 in funding – which include the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and several municipalities across the state – will now launch feasibility studies before beginning construction of their microgrids.

The NY Prize Microgrid Competition's first five awards, $100,000 each, will fund feasibility studies at each location. The awardees are: The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus; electrical utilities associated with the villages of Bath, Westfield and Sherburne; and the East Hampton area of Long Island. Submissions for additional awards are still being accepted through May 15 – details are available at Applications for the second and third stage funding, which first stage winners are eligible to receive, will be available this summer.

Traditionally, microgrids serve only one user, such as a university or hospital. NY Prize aims to broaden this scope by connecting multiple users, like a series of homes and businesses, through a network that relies on clean, reliable and affordable energy sources. Microgrids expand customer choice, ensure reliability, improve resiliency and preserve the environment.

Eligible awardees of the NY Prize Microgrid Competition funding include local governments, community organizations, non-profit entities, for-profit companies and municipally-owned utilities. Potential projects must be integrated into utility networks and serve multiple customers, including at least one "critical infrastructure" customer, such as a hospital, police station, fire station or water treatment facilities.

The website also has information on NY Prize Opportunity Zones, which are geographic areas that have been identified by the local electric distribution companies in New York where microgrids may reduce utility system constraints, and defer expensive infrastructure investment costs. The NY Prize Community Microgrid Competition is administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, with support from Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery.

Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman said, "Community microgrids can protect residents and businesses from some of the devastating effects seen after storms like Sandy, Irene and Lee and I'm pleased to see many of cities and towns across New York most impacted by these storms have entered this first phase of the NY Prize competition. Microgrid technology is just one component of the State's efforts in building an energy infrastructure that is more resilient, reliable and efficient."

NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes said, "Under Governor Cuomo's REV plan, the State continues to transform the way electricity is distributed. These winners are leading the effort to capture the benefits of investing in a community microgrid. This innovative solution will bring greater power reliability to the residents and businesses of these communities, as it will reduce power outages, protect the environment and reduce grid pressure."

Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery Executive Director Jamie Rubin said, “Superstorm Sandy and other recent storms reaffirmed the need for resilient infrastructure across New York State and in particular we need to have access to back up power for assets that power our communities and speed recovery. Through the NY Prize Microgrid completion, the State under Governor Cuomo’s leadership is again positioning itself to be a leader in developing innovative solutions that will make us better and stronger. By inviting innovation from the brightest businesses, entrepreneurs and electric utilities from across the State and nation and complementing this with other resiliency measures being driven by NY Rising Community programs, this competition seeks to inspire a new generation of community-based power, and brings us another step closer to a reimagined New York.” Winning microgrid feasibility studies include:

Long Island - The Long Island Community Microgrid Project, Suffolk County The project will assess the suitability of integrating solar power and energy storage to offset electricity demand in a community that swells to five times its population in summer, and is also subject to severe, ocean-based storms around the year. Under this project, the community will study installing up to 15 megawatts (MW) of solar power in combination with a 25-megawatt-hour energy storage system, that would provide solar-generated power to the community at night, and to vital services during an outage. A megawatt can provide power to more than 200 average-sized homes.

Southern Tier - Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems, Steuben County The project would combine grid-based power with a large anaerobic digestion (gas-to-power) facility that would generate electricity from breaking down organic waste from the county's wastewater treatment center and other sources. This system would allow the community to continue to receive power in the event of a grid outage. Bath suffered from an extended power outage in February, 2014 as well as higher-than-normal energy costs at the time. Because many town residents heat with electricity, this left many residents without heat and with higher energy costs during the heart of a cold winter.

Southern Tier - The Village of Sherburne, Chenango County The project would be powered partially through combined heat and power (CHP) and renewable sources. This rural community of 1,300 has been prone to power interruptions, especially from summer storms. Vital services such as the fire and police departments, Village Hall, a health clinic and the wastewater treatment center lack emergency back-up generation, and would receive power during an outage through a microgrid.

Western New York - The Village of Westfield Electric Department, Chautauqua County The project would consist of a 2 MW or larger CHP facility to supplement power from the electric grid. The village receives power from only one grid line, and if that line fails the community's 3,200 residents lose power. With many locals relying on electricity to run space heating, an extended power outage would cause undue hardship to many in the colder months. The department also provides vital power to fire and police departments, water treatment centers, and medical services.

Western New York - The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Erie County The project would provide power to both the medical campus of 12,000 employees and the adjacent Fruit Belt neighborhood. This self-sustaining microgrid would combine grid-based electricity with solar power and an on-site CHP system to increase efficiency. The system would have the additional benefit of providing electricity to the Medical Campus and surrounding community in the event of a power outage.