More Towns Position for $40M NY Prize to Build Community Microgrids…Brookhaven, Sherburne

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NY PrizeIt’s pretty clear that the NY Prize, a $40 million community microgrid solicitation, won’t lack for contestants, with two more municipalities now signaling their participation.

Although Stage 1 proposals are not due until May 15, the tiny New York village of Sherburne last week submitted its application to the New York State Energy & Research Authority, which is administering the fund.

“We are excited about this step in our town’s energy future,” said William Acee, mayor of Sherburne. “Forward thinking programs like this by NYSERDA really make a difference to New York, and Sherburne stands ready to work with the state and our consultants to build this microgrid.”

Meanwhile, Brookhaven, a Long Island municipality that spans 200 square miles and has 500,000 residents, issued a request for qualifications March 26 seeking a partner to help it seek the funds and design and build a microgrid. Proposals are due April 16 to the town.

Tompkins County and Freeport earlier made known their plans to vie for the money, as well.

Stage 1 of the NY Prize will provide winners with up to $100,000 per project to conduct a microgrid feasibility study. NYSERDA expects to make 25 to 30 Stage 1 awards. In Stage 2, the state will award up to $1 million per project for engineering studies and business plans, due no later than February 2016. And finally, five to seven communities will receive up to $25 million to build microgrids in Stage 3, which has a December 2017 application deadline.

Like other NY Prize projects, the Brookhaven and Sherburne microgrids will focus on improving local electrical distribution system performance and resiliency both when the grid is operating normally and during outages. At least one critical facility, such as a hospital, school or fire station, must be served by the microgrid, under the competition’s rules.

Brookhaven seeks a microgrid design that will help it reach its goal of a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2020. The town’s  current microgrid plan incorporates a town hall in Farmingville for emergency operations and shelter, the adjacent Sachem East High School as an emergency shelter, and possibily the Cayuga Elementary School as an emergency shelter and emergency supply distribution center. Brookhaven also may bring nearby homes into the microgrid.

With some distributed energy already in place, Brookhaven sees itself as well-situated for a microgrid. The town has a 10-kW wind turbine installed at the town hall as well as an on-site sewage treatment plant. A high school adjacent to the town hall also has a 10-kW wind turbine. And large parcels of land nearby create opportunity for solar photovoltaics.

Brookhaven is seeking a partner that can help at no charge with the application. If the town wins the money, it will contract with the winner to design and build the microgrid.

The rules prohibit the money from being used for campus microgrids that serve single entities because those projects have already been demonstrated extensively.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced plans for the  NY Prize in January 2014, as part of a larger effort to keep the lights on should another disaster strike like SuperStorm Sandy. The competition is now being watched by towns and cities nationwide, since it is likely to result in several lessons learned in developing community microgrids.

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The NY Prize offers a map showing zones in the state where utility distribution systems would benefit from microgrids. However, applicants are not required to be within the zones. Location, alone, will not determine the economic viability of a microgrid, says NY Prize application materials.  The mix of customers, load patterns, and generation will play a role as well.

The NY Prize request for proposals is available here.

Track microgrid opportunities like the NY Prize by following us on twitter @MicrogridNews.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of 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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