New York State to Build 16-MW Microgrid in Albany for Government Center

New York state government is about to walk the talk. The state that has been encouraging its communities to install microgrids now will build its own microgrid in Albany, the seat of state government.

microgrid in Albany

Updated plant will house a new 16 megawatt combined heat and power system that will act as a microgrid to power all buildings at Empire State Plaza. Credit: NYPA

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today launched development of a 16-MW microgrid to power the 98-acre Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza.

The microgrid will use combined heat and power to supply 90 percent of the power, as well as heating and cooling for the 10 buildings where 11,000 state employees work.

After it comes on line in late 2019, the microgrid is expected to cut state energy costs by $2.7 million annually.

State officials are siting the microgrid in Albany to ensure government services are powered in a crisis. The project also is designed to help the state meet its goal to reduce greenhouse gases 40 percent by 2030 (from 1990 levels). The state calculates that the microgrid will cut 25,600 tons annually.

To be housed at a steam plant that has been defunct since 1994, the microgrid will use two 8-MW natural gas-fired turbine generators with dual fuel capabilities. The project will recover waste heat from the generators to heat and cool the plaza buildings.

“By utilizing the vacant Albany steam plant, this project will bolster our efforts to cut energy costs and harden our vital facilities to withstand what Mother Nature throws our way,” said Cuomo, in a news release issued by his office.

Project costs are still being worked out, pending the results of a request for proposals issued by the New York Power Authority (NYPA). Proposals from qualified vendors are due to NYPA on July 13. The authority expects to announce winners in the fall.

The state Office of General Services, which will finance the plant, says it expects to save $25 million by swapping out older equipment for the microgrid. NYSERDA will contribute $2.5 million toward the project’s costs.

The state will contract for the CHP system as a design/build project. The winning team will be responsible for completing the detailed design, permitting and interconnection requirements, procure the material and equipment, construct the facility, verify performance and operation. The winner also will be responsible for operating the CHP facility for its first year.

Watch this video for more details about the microgrid New York plans to build for its government seat.

May expand into downtown

In addition to serving the Empire State Plaza, the microgrid will be built for possible expansion into other areas of downtown Albany. A plan envisioning this second phase is now a contender in the NY Prize, a $40 million microgrid competition underway before the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Under the expanded plan, the microgrid would serve the plaza and possibly the Times Union Center, city hall, the courthouse, and the new convention center. The concept won $1 million in NY Prize Stage 2 funds. The money will be used to develop a comprehensive engineering, financial and commercial assessment.

U.S. microgrids are typically connected to the central grid, and the microgrid in Albany is no different. When the grid experiences a power outage, the microgrid will island and rely on its own generators to serve the buildings.

microgrid in Albany

Credit: NYPA

“Microgrids are an important component in how we are going to modernize our energy infrastructure,” said Richard Kauffman, New York State Energy and Finance chair. “By updating the Empire State Plaza energy system with a microgrid, under Governor Cuomo’s nation-leading clean energy plans, we are improving energy efficiency and power reliability at downtown Albany’s centerpiece public gathering place. At the same time, we are making sure that more New Yorkers have resilient, reliable and energy efficient power today and into the future.”

The project is part of New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), a plan to create a new business model for the electric industry that fosters microgrids and distributed energy, drives up use of clean energy and drives down carbon dioxide emissions.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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