The Two Bridges/Beyond the Grid Community Microgrid has completed a study demonstrating the feasibility of a non-utility-owned, non-profit, urban microgrid in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The model is replicable and will allow broad customer participation when it begins, with potential to expand to nearby properties later.
The Beyond the Grid Community Microgrid will serve a mix of public and private residential, institutional, and commercial sites along Avenue C between East 10th Street and East 14th Street in the East Village, all of which were impacted by flooding and/or electrical outages as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
The proposed microgrid would include a mix of natural gas and renewable generation sources, including combined heat and power, energy storage, and demand-side efficiency measures, and would serve three public schools, community center, pharmacy, supermarket, and a variety of apartment buildings.
Team: Two Bridges Neighborhood Council,The Louis Berger Group, Morrison & Foerster LLP, Milestone Architecture, WiFi-NY, Lockheed Martin, Stout Risius Ross
Partners: New York City Housing Authority, L+M Development Partners, New York City Department of Education, Village East Towers, LES Ready, University Settlement, and Con Edison.
To view a presentation by the Beyond the Grid Team, click link here.
Excerpt of Key Findings from Two Bridges/Beyond the Grid NY Prize Stage 1 Feasibility Study:
- The Two Bridges/Beyond the Grid Community Microgrid is financially viable.
- The Microgrid is technologically feasible and seamless -- it has the ability to operate in island mode for extended periods.
- We believe that Beyond The Grid’s business model – a not-for-profit urban microgrid based on the rural electric cooperative model - is the first of its kind.
- Since certain of the DER can be certified as “qualifying facilities" (QFs) under Public Utilities Regulatory Policies (PURPA), we can sell power back to the grid at ConEd’s avoided costs (i.e. buy- back service).
- Replicability is one of the benefits of our business model (including a relatively simple control structure). By “replicable” we mean that this microgrid can be expanded to serve neighboring properties (whereby economies of scale are in our favor) and that the model can be duplicated in other cities or highly concentrated suburban clusters.
Excerpt of Summary from Two Bridges/Beyond the Grid NY Prize Stage 1 Feasibility Study:
The Two Bridges/Beyond the Grid's microgrid design approach considers the social and economic context of the community served and will have positive impacts on quality of life and availability of critical services. The microgrid provides power and communications through community-owned distributed generation sources that can sustain their homes, schools, and businesses full-time and in times of grid blackout.
In addition to providing customers vital commodities (electricity, heat and hot water), the project will contribute significantly to addressing the area’s social and environmental concerns. Residents of the East Village are much poorer, older and more diverse than average for either the City or the State. The microgrid will help protect vulnerable communities – residential populations that are naturally occurring retirement communities, disabled veterans, students on the autistic spectrum, and low-income residents who experienced extended outages of power and/or steam heat from named storms including Irene, October Snowstorm and Sandy. Business plans for the community microgrid include hiring and training local residents to operate the facility.
Beyond the Grid's operating entity as a non-profit cooperative is inspired by America's thousands of rural electric cooperatives empowered under President Franklin Roosevelt's Rural Electrification Act of 1936. As in the rural model, the microgrid serves its member/ratepayers and participates in power exports to the distribution network. Beyond the Grid strives to create a model for the Urban Electrical Cooperative. Rural electrical cooperatives receive funding through municipal bonds and low-interest loans from the US Department of Agriculture. An opportunity exists here to form a similar financing mechanism to fund the growth of urban electrical cooperatives. Through demonstrating the multiplying effects, this community microgrid model provides on its own. Through growing economies of scale (as it is repeated throughout the city and elsewhere), similar financing mechanisms will foster the development and growth of the Urban Electrical Cooperative.
The microgrid, by providing 100% of peak load to its members, substantially reduces demand on existing utility-owned transmission lines. Its ability to operate in island mode for extended periods obviates social costs associated with typical power outages during emergencies, including emergency services, health costs, insurance losses, loss of life, loss of business.
“A first-in-the nation $40 million competition to help communities create microgrids - standalone energy systems that can operate independently in the event of a power outage.
NY Prize helps communities reduce costs, promote clean energy, and build reliability and resiliency into the electric grid. NY Prize is a part of a statewide endeavor to modernize New York State’s electric grid, spurring innovation and community partnerships with utilities, local governments, and private sector. Our mission is to enable the technological, operational, and business models that will help communities reduce costs, promote clean energy, and build reliability and resiliency into the grid.”
To read more about the competition and all Stage One award winners see:
More About Beyond the Grid:
BEYOND THE GRID
What if the power didn't go out during Hurricane Sandy?
The Beyond the Grid team is working with LES Ready to pilot an innovative resilient energy & communications network to serve the diverse needs of our Lower East Side community.
Beyond the Grid will power & connect community-based organizations, residential buildings and small businesses, retrofitted through sustainable design, to become resilient hubs of information and relief in crisis scenarios; our innovative use of green energy & communications technologies will enhance economic, environmental & social conditions in both crisis and fairweather scenarios.
Beyond the Grid Project Objectives
- Develop partnerships between residents, community-based organizations, small businesses and agencies, to establish a community-based resilient energy and communications network.
- Install energy efficient combined heating and power (CHP) systems to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change; these systems can still operate in the event of a power outage.
- Strengthen communications using a community wireless network powered by green energy.
- Protect buildings from flooding and weather extremes.
- Provide important information to the community in times of crisis and fair weather.