New York invests $11 million to fund community microgrids

Electricity is in the air as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $11 million in funding for the second stage of the NY Prize Community Microgrid competition.

Elsewhere, the debate over the long-term utility of microgrids continues to heat up – but New York is going all-in, pledging $11 million yesterday to fund  engineering and business-plan develop for 11 projects around the state.

The money comes as the second stage of the  NY Prize Community Microgrid competition begins. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to expand the use of microgrids throughout the state, saying they provide critical power backup while supporting development of on-site cutting edge renewable-energy technologies.

“It’s critical that communities across New York have reliable power to provide vital services when they are needed the most,” Cuomo said. “These awards will help local government modernize and harden their power infrastructure, as well as join this administration’s fight against climate change, and create a cleaner, greener, Empire State for all.”

The $11 million will be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and will allow contestants to produce detailed engineering designs and business plans for microgrid development in their communities. Winners from the second round will then access to financing for microgrid construction through NY Green Bank.

Early-stage development of community microgrids struggle for access to financing through traditional methods like banks,  the. NY Green Bank will provide as much as $50 million in financing assistance per project to Stage 3 winners, who will be announced by the end of 2018.

NY Prize applications came in from combinations of community organizations, local governments, non-profit entities, developers, for-profit companies and municipally owned utilities. The 11 projects receiving funding are in the following locations:

  • Capital Region: Empire State Plaza; University Heights
  • Central New York: City of Syracuse
  • Long Island: Town of Huntington; Rockville Centre; Village of Freeport
  • New York City: East Bronx; Clarkson Avenue; Sunnyside Yards
  • Southern Tier: City of Binghamton
  • Western New York: Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus

For a full list of project descriptions, click here.

In the first stage of the competition, NYSERDA funded $8 million for  microgrid feasibility studies in 83 communities in 2015. Funding for Stage 1 and Stage 2 totals nearly $20 million.

“NY Prize supports Governor Cuomo’s ambitious energy agenda and will help make community energy systems stronger and more resilient,” said John B. Rhodes, NYSERDA president and CEO. “These communities are developing energy solutions that meet their local energy needs with technical designs and financial commercial plans that demonstrate REV principles in action.”