An East Hampton solar power and energy storage proposal was selected as one of five projects to share $500,000 in initial funding from the state’s community microgrid program, which is designed to create energy backup for local community networks during extreme weather events or emergencies.
The NY Prize Microgrid Competition’s first five awards, $100,000 each, will fund feasibility studies at each location. 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.
“Under Gov. Cuomo’s REV plan, the State continues to transform the way electricity is distributed,” said NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes. “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.”
Other winners in the microgrid competition include:
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.