New York Consortium To Explore Distributed Generation and Microgrid Projects

As part of the recommendations recently outlined by Mayor Bloomberg’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR), the New York State Smart Grid Consortium (NYSSGC) will partner with the City and task force on several major initiatives including the identification and facilitation of innovative microgrid projects intended to improve system reliability and resiliency. “The Consortium is working with its utility members to establish microgrid projects both in New York City and in upstate New York,” says James T. Gallagher, Executive Director, New York State Smart Grid Consortium. “These action-oriented projects will demonstrate the advances that have been made in power technology, and most importantly, they will show customers tangible benefits and what the smart grid and the utility of the future will truly mean to them.”

Four Strategies and Actions for DG and Microgrids

In June 2013, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the publication of “A Stronger, More Resilient New York”, a comprehensive plan that contains recommendations both for rebuilding the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy and increasing the resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide. Scaling up distributed generation (DG) and microgrids, in concert with public and private partners, is one of the key initiatives identified by this report. The below is an excerpt from this publication:

        There exists the potential for significant expansion of DG systems in New York. However, regulatory structures, financing challenges, and lack of information constrain further growth. The City, acting through its Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability (OLTPS) and the New York City Distributed Generation Collaborative (DG Collaborative) — a stakeholder group convened by the City in 2012, and consisting of utilities, regulators, the USDOE Northeast Clean Energy Application Center at Pace University, developers, and other industry representatives — has been working to address barriers to DG and micro-grid penetration, with a goal of bringing citywide capacity to the original PlaNYC goal of 800 MW by 2030.


        To promote DG, the City will work with the DG Collaborative to employ four main strategies. First, to address regulatory barriers, the City will call on the PSC to reevaluate the existing tariff structures and interconnection standards relating to DG in New York. Second, to address the financing barriers to DG, the City will work with NYCEEC and New York State to increase access to low-cost financing for DG systems, and with NYSERDA to revise DG incentives, especially at critical facilities such as hospitals.


        Third, to address information barriers, the City will work with the DG Collaborative to provide technical assistance to property owners and developers, sharing best practices on DG projects and applying lessons learned from municipal buildings to privately-owned facilities. For example, the City has screened over 340 municipal buildings for technical compatibility with cogeneration, resulting in a 15 MW project under construction at Rikers Island and a 12 MW project at North River Waste Water Treatment Plant. The City will expand its screening analysis to include other DG technologies, such as fuel cells and renewables, working to expand DG in City buildings to 55 MW by 2017.


        Fourth, the DG Collaborative will work with City agencies to streamline administrative processes to promote prompt one-stop regulatory review of potential DG projects. For solar photovoltaic systems (PV), in particular, the City will call on the Smart DG Hub — a stakeholder group convened by CUNY — to examine the applications of solar PV during outages and the technical and regulatory solutions for enabling cost effective and safe deployment of PV during outages.


        Microgrids, or neighborhood-scale networks of DG installations, have the potential to provide resiliency benefits, but require study. To encourage microgrid adoption, the City will focus on four actions. First, the City will call on the PSC to clarify the rules governing the export of energy to multiple property owners and across roadways, so as to reduce uncertainty for private investors. Second, the City will evaluate the potential for a microgrid pilot in clusters of City-owned buildings.


        Third, the City will work with USDOE, the NYS Smart Grid Consortium, the DG Collaborative, and NYSERDA to examine the feasibility of microgrid pilots throughout the city, including in areas like the Rockaways. Fourth, the City will work with NYSERDA and academic institutions to study the technical and economic effects of higher penetration of microgrid systems on New York City’s energy networks.


According to the SIRR report, the City’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability will launch a microgrid feasibility study by the end of 2014, and will work with public and private partners to scale up distributed generation and microgrids. The OLTPS’ goal is to install at least 55 MW of distributed generation in municipal buildings by the end of 2020. 

Source: New York State Smart Grid Consortium