Hockey Tape Manufacturer Signs on to Microgrid in New York Industrial Park

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North American Tapes (NA Tapes) will be the first customer to join an industrial park microgrid at the Jefferson County Corporate Park in Watertown, New York.

industrial park microgrid

By stockphoto mania/Shutterstock

To be built, operated and owned by Rochester, New York’s Acadia Energy, the microgrid will use natural gas-fired combined heat and power and solar photovoltaics. Other behind-the-meter energy resources may be added at a future point.

Acadia Energy and Jefferson County Economic Development Agency (EDA) aim to expand the microgrid services to other companies in the industrial park, as well as build microgrids at other locations. 

Energy bills expected to drop

NA Tapes — the largest manufacturer of hockey tapes used in the National Hockey League — should see its energy bills drop 10-15 percent compared with what it would pay local utility National Grid, according to Acadia Energy CEO John Bay.

Among other things, the microgrid project opens up the opportunity for NA Tapes to engage in peak-shaving, said Don Alexander, Jefferson County EDA executive director, in an interview. Peak shaving offers a way to save money by reducing power use when grid demand is high and power costs rise.

The manufacturer also will gain electric reliability and should experience fewer lost production hours, since the industrial park microgrid will be able to disconnect from the local utility during power outages and operate in island mode.

In addition, the project contributes to state government-led grid modernization efforts and may serve as a template for others to reduce greenhouse gases and other forms of pollution, Alexander added.

Acadia Energy and NA Tapes have signed a 20-year energy services agreement that specifies the financial and operational terms and conditions of the microgrid. Notably, there will be nothing in the way of up-front costs for NA Tapes and the contract includes an “annual look-back” provision, Bay said. The look-back provision adjusts NA Tapes’ payments based on actual performance criteria “so both parties continue with a win-win scenario.”

New York Prize grant winner

The industrial park microgrid project got its start three years ago when Jefferson County EDA and Acadia Energy won a NY Prize community microgrid project development grant.

“We’ve worked closely with the Jefferson County Economic Development Agency and their executive director Don Alexander since,” Bay told Microgrid Knowledge. “NA Tapes is one of the nodes identified in the larger industrial park’s proposed microgrid. Due to regulatory issues, we are waiting to begin the larger project and are now just starting with the individual nodes.”

Aging utility grid distribution infrastructure is taking a toll on NA Tapes’ business, as well as that of other industrial park residents. “They (NA Tapes) currently struggle with up-time in the area,” Bay said. “We anticipate better power quality, resiliency and reliability.”

Acadia Energy will be upgrading a small portion of NA Tapes’ electrical system as part of the microgrid’s deployment. “We have already instituted sensors and the digital communications network within the building, provided by our partner Circuit Meter of Toronto Canada,” Bay said.

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Real-time microgrid data communications

Linked to Acadia Energy’s proprietary InSite microgrid systems platform, the Circuit Meter installation will be able to receive real-time data from all of NA Tapes major equipment. That data will be put to good use by creating more granular, detailed electrical usage profiles that can be incorporated in the microgrid control and energy management system.

Plans also call for adding battery energy storage to the industrial park microgrid. C&S Engineering, Acadia Energy’s Syracuse, New York-based engineering company, did the initial site and system analysis for the NA Tapes microgrid. “Up until this month, there were no published battery incentives in New York State. They have now been released and batteries will be added to the configuration,” Bay said.

SMA, Capstone and FlexEnergy also contributed to the project advancement. Who will provide the microgrid controller is yet to be determined, Bay said.

NA Tapes is a great proponent of the idea of using clean-energy microgrids to enhance electricity generation, distribution and use, Alexander said.

“For us, it’s all about jobs; that’s why we’re doing this. We’re trying to find a sweet spot, a new identity, for the community that recognizes and takes advantage of technological innovations and addresses socioeconomic challenges,” Alexander said.

The project is expected to come online in Fall 2019.

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