14 LI communities win microgrid funding

Roughly $8.3 million in state awards were doled out today to support innovative “microgrid” projects across New York State – and for once, Long Island was in the thick of things.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that 83 New York communities would receive approximately $100,000 each through Stage 1 of the NY Prize microgrid competition, part of Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision strategy that is designed to inspire a new generation of community-based power. Among the winners were 14 distinct projects in the Long Island region, the second-highest number of projects in any New York region.

Each of the awarded projects was proposed by a different village, town or city. The Mid-Hudson region led the way with 23 different awarded proposals, followed by the Island’s 14 and nine in New York City. All told, more than 130 villages, towns and cities submitted proposals.

Each of the 83 selected communities will use its award money to study the feasibility of creating a community-based microgrid – a standalone energy system operating independently of the main grid, and therefore able to function in the event of a widespread power outage due to a natural disaster or other crisis situation. The idea, according to the NY Prize parameters, is to incorporate renewable-power technologies and other advanced energy ideas into a clean, efficient and resilient localized power source.

“New Yorkers have firsthand experience regarding the need for resilient and efficient power systems that can withstand whatever Mother Nature has in store for us,” Cuomo said in announcing the awards. “This funding will help communities across New York invest in these new systems.”

After six to eight months of studying the technical, operational and financial feasibility of their proposals, the communities will be able to refine their technical configurations and report to the state any immediate opportunities for energy efficiency. From there, they can compete for further financial support in future stages of the NY Prize competition – administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority – or independently pursue their energy-resource opportunities.

The Long Island communities among today’s winners include the towns of Brookhaven, Hempstead, Huntington, North Hempstead and Southampton; the villages of Babylon, East Rockaway, Freeport, Greenport, Port Jefferson, Rockville Centre and Southampton; and the City of Long Beach. One winning Island community, the Town of East Hampton, was previously announced.

NYSERDA President John Rhodes said the Stage 1 awards prove the “great potential” in working with local communities on creating resilient local power grids.

“This is an important first step to ensuring that we’re prepared for extreme weather events,” Rhodes said in the release. “And it’s a vital component of the state’s future energy direction.”