Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of $40 Million NY Prize Microgrid Competition

New and improved microgrids will bolster community access to safe and reliable energy

February 11, 2015

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the state's $40 million energy competition, NY Prize, which is now accepting proposals for microgrids that meet energy and resiliency needs of local communities. The prize money for the winning designs will be used to build microgrids across New York State to reduce customer costs and promote clean energy.

“Having a reliable source of power is crucial when extreme weather strikes – and by launching this microgrid competition, we’re encouraging the development of more resilient energy networks across the State,” Governor Cuomo said. “Developing and implementing microgrids will mean that more New Yorkers can benefit from a cleaner and more efficient energy system that will also be more accessible when they need it most. This is another way that the State is stepping up to help local communities build back stronger in the face of severe weather events, and I encourage all interested parties to apply.”

Microgrids are local energy networks that are able to separate from the larger electric grid during extreme weather events or emergencies, and provide power to the grid when needed. Building these systems in regions prone to storm outages helps reactions to extreme weather by increasing power resiliency and reliability and improving energy efficiency. Microgrid technology can combine solar, wind, hydro or combined heat and power systems for local power generation and as such, plays an important role in the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan. Alongside the Governor's energy plan, microgrids expand customer choice, ensure reliability and preserve the environment.

Eligible parties for NY Prize include local governments, community organizations, non-profit entities and for-profit companies. Potential projects must be integrated into utility networks and serve multiple customers, including at least one "critical infrastructure" customer, such as a hospital, police station, fire station or water treatment facilities.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance, Office of Governor Cuomo said, “Reforming the Energy Vision's groundbreaking initiatives will fundamentally transform the way electricity is distributed and used in New York State. This unprecedented effort is creating the power grid of the future and changing the way consumers buy and use energy. By introducing and embracing information technology and clean energy solutions, such as microgrids, millions of New Yorkers will benefit from a 21st century power grid, enabling them to better manage and reduce their energy costs.”

The NY Prize competition will work with the private sector to spur new business models and community partnerships to increase reliability and reduce costs for consumers. The competition will prioritize project replicability and transparency as well as designate feasibility and design requirements.

The competition will be administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, with support from Governor Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery.

John B. Rhodes, President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority said, "Governor Cuomo's NY Prize competition will help continue efforts to modernize the state's electric grid as part of Reforming the Energy Vision. Together with our partners -- utilities, local governments and the private sector -- we will help communities reduce the risk of power outages while investing in a more efficient power technology that also benefits the environment and takes pressure off the grid."

New York’s energy leadership team is concluding a Statewide Winter Energy Tour in each of the ten Regional Economic Development Council regions. Hundreds of participants have joined state officials, business leaders and local community champions at these stops to learn about the State’s energy overall policy, benefits of microgrids and details on NY Prize eligibility requirements.

The competition has three levels of funding: basic engineering studies, advanced engineering designs and support of the installation of a major on-site power system. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is currently seeking applications for the first phase, which will provide up to $100,000 to as many as 25 to 30 communities to study the feasibility of microgrids in their locations.

Based on the results of the studies, up to 10 communities determined to be most suited for a microgrid will move onto the second phase, in which $1 million will be made available to each community to conduct a detailed engineering design and business plan. Funding of up to $7 million will be available in the third phase of the program to help support construction of a microgrid. Cost-sharing from the community is required for the second and third phases of this competition.

To apply for NY Prize, visit nyserda.ny.gov/microgrid.

webinar to discuss details about the NY Prize competition will be held on Monday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. The webinar will provide an opportunity for interested parties to learn about the program from state officials, including examples of ideal locations for microgrids.

Also being discussed during the webinar is a new report on Critical Facility Resiliency, offering recommendations regarding the establishment of microgrids, and includes feasibility studies at five sites that have experienced extreme weather events, including three in New York City and Long Island.

Under Governor Cuomo’s initiative for Reforming the Energy Vision, New York State will spur clean energy innovation, bring in new investments, improve consumer choice while protecting the environment and energize New York’s economy. This pioneering approach provides New Yorkers new opportunities for energy savings, local power generation, and enhanced reliability. To achieve the State’s economic development and environmental objectives, Reforming the Energy Vision encompasses statewide initiatives such as the Clean Energy Fund and $1 billion NY Green Bank to overcome market barriers and attract private capital. By empowering communities and creating jobs through programs like Community Solar NY and K-Solar for schools, the $40 million NY-Prize competition for community microgrids and the $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative, New York is leveraging statewide resources to integrate local energy resources and meet the needs of New York communities.

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