NY Prize Offers $11M for Stage 2 Community Microgrid Competition; and NY Green Bank Provides $50M for Stage 3 Buildout

Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced on March 23 that the the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) would offer $11 million in funding for 11 microgrid projects across the Empire State as part of the second stage of the NY Prize Community Microgrid competition.

NY Prize, a program of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is a first-in-the-nation competition to help communities create microgrids – which are standalone energy systems that can operate independently in the event of a power outage.

As part of the competition, each Stage 2 winner will receive $1 million from NYSERDA, to create detailed engineering designs and business plans for a microgrid that would bring local clean energy generation and backup power to their communities.

In addition, winners advancing to Stage 3 of the competition will have access to financing for microgrid construction through the New York Green Bank– a state-sponsored entity that leverages private-sector capital to support and expand clean energy financing markets.

Since community microgrids and clean energy projects are not easily financed through traditional capital providers like banks, access to NY Green Bank financing will be especially important to the completion of these critical projects, Cuomo said in his announcement.

NY Green Bank is prepared to facilitate up to $50 million in financing assistance per project to Stage 3 winners subject to its investment criteria, due diligence, and financial analysis.

NYSERDA awarded over $8 million for Stage 1 of the competition to 83 communities across the State to conduct microgrid feasibility studies in 2015. Nearly 150 communities had applied for the initial stage of the competition.

Utilities played an active role in Stage 1 of the competition by identifying “grid opportunity zones,” or geographic areas where microgrids may reduce utility system constraints, and defer expensive infrastructure investment costs.  Utilities also assisted communities and other partners with submission of their applications. Funding for Stage 1 and Stage 2 totals nearly $20 million.

NY Prize applications for Stage 1 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; and
  • Western New York: Buffalo-Niagara Medical Campus

Microgrids provide critical power backup not only for homes, but for businesses, hospitals, and other vital facilities during extreme weather events and emergencies, while supporting development of on-site cutting edge renewable energy technologies. Microgrids also support New York State’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030.

“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.”
New York State Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman stated, “Community microgrids are a vital component of Governor Cuomo’s REV strategy to modernize our energy infrastructure and ensure reliability and resiliency for the grid. NY Prize enables innovative clean energy business models developed by local communities that can be replicated across New York State, providing New Yorkers with more choice in how they get their energy while safeguarding their communities from extreme weather events.”

Finally, Huntington Supervisor Frank P. Petrone commented, “One of the lessons we learned from Superstorm Sandy was the importance of ensuring that facilities providing vital services and emergency shelter continue to have power, so they can address residents’ health and safety needs. This grant takes Huntington one step closer toward ensuring that, if another storm like Sandy occurs, we can seamlessly transition into our emergency mode. I thank Governor Cuomo and NYSERDA for creating the NY Prize Community Microgrid Competition and for selecting Huntington as one of the winners.”

Stage 3 winners are expected to be announced by the end of 2018.

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