New Paltz—NY Prize Awards 83 Communities Considering Microgrids

The sleepy college town of New Paltz, New York, may be headed for big energy changes. The New York Prize Community Grid competition awarded New Paltz, along with 82 other communities, $100,000 for microgrid feasibility assessments in the NY Prize Stage I project.

The New Paltz project’s final Stage I report is available on the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) website. The $40 million NY Prize is a three-stage competition. During Stage 1, competitively selected communities received funding to conduct engineering assessments that evaluate the feasibility of installing and operating a community microgrid at a proposed site in New York State.


NY Prize stage 1 community grid projects

NYSERDA last year selected a public-private partnership led by Burr Energy LLC (dba Microgrid Institute) to create this assessment of developing a community microgrid in New Paltz, according to a news report.  The project team includes the Town and Village of New Paltz, State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, the New Paltz Central School District, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and utility partner Central Hudson Gas & Electric. Microgrid Institute led the Stage I study as prime contractor and principal investigator, with technical partners Hitachi Consulting, Green Energy Corp., and TeMIX Inc.

Proposed microgrid goals

In consultation with the New Paltz Community, the Microgrid Institute team identified six strategic goals for the proposed microgrid:

  1. Empower the community to implement its own energy strategy, as part of integrated community planning and development;
  2. Improve the resiliency of services that are critical to the health, safety, and vitality of the community;
  3. Increase the community’s use of local resilient renewable energy assets, and facilitate ongoing local renewable energy investment;
  4. Reduce the community’s fossil energy consumption and related environmental footprint, and facilitate ongoing reductions;
  5. Increase opportunities for local ownership of energy resources, keeping more energy dollars in the New Paltz economy; and
  6. Support future economic development and growth by modernizing community energy infrastructure.

New Paltz—NY Prize Competition Winner

The NY Prize Stage I study assessed the potential for a microgrid to serve these goals by deploying electricity generation and storage systems, as well as efficiency, conservation, and smart load-control technologies, in multiple zones throughout the community. The proposed microgrid would provide clean, resilient power for numerous vital community assets, including public shelters, emergency response and healthcare facilities, municipal water and wastewater systems, and commercial food stores, pharmacies, and gas stations. 

“A multi-zone microgrid will substantially improve the New Paltz community’s ability to withstand the effects of long-duration power outages,” says Town Supervisor Neil Bettez. “This study verified that not only would the proposed microgrid work technically, it would bring economic and environmental benefits – especially as a platform for community energy development.”

The NY Prize study concludes that the proposed microgrid would be feasible in terms of technical design, economics, and legal structure. Additionally, NYSERDA performed an independent benefit-cost analysis, indicating that in a conservative scenario, the proposed microgrid would begin producing positive economic benefits to the community when New Paltz experiences outages exceeding only 2.4 hours per year.

NYSERDA is accepting RFPs for Stage 2 of the NY Prize: audit-grade engineering design and business planning. Stage 3 will encompass project build-out and post-operational monitoring.