Governor Cuomo Announces New Locally Sourced Microgrid to Power the Empire State Plaza

New Power Generation Facility Expected to Save Plaza More Than $2.7 Million in Annual Energy Costs

May 22, 2017

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced plans to construct a new state-of-the-art, locally-sourced mini-power grid that will be connected to the statewide grid, and also be able to operate independently, to power the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza in Albany. The energy-efficient co-generation plant and microgrid will supply 90 percent of the power for the 98-acre downtown Albany complex and is expected to save the Plaza more than $2.7 million in annual energy costs. The project will also remove more than 25,600 tons of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere each year – the equivalent of taking more than 4,900 cars off the road – supporting New York’s goal to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels.

"New York is aggressively working to cut greenhouse emissions and reduce the state’s carbon footprint, and with the addition of this new microgrid, the Empire State Plaza will support our ongoing efforts to combat climate change," Governor Cuomo said. "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."

The new microgrid will be a clean energy technology upgrade and reuse of a former downtown steam plant and will be linked to the state’s overall power grid. It will also have the capability to operate independently from the grid in the case of an emergency or power outage. The microgrid will provide reliable power, heating and cooling for continuous operation of the entire plaza as a self-sustaining, power-generating island unto itself, enabling state operations and services to continue during an emergency.

The power generation facility will be located on Sheridan Avenue in a dormant waste-recovery steam plant that was decommissioned in 1994 and is attached to the steam plant currently in use. The upgraded system will allow on-site power generation from two new 8 megawatt, clean-burning, natural gas-fired turbine generators that will also have dual fuel capabilities. As a byproduct of the electrical generation, the natural gas turbines will generate steam to serve heating and cooling needs of the entire plaza.

A video showing the benefits of the microgrid is available here, along with photos of the downtown facility to be repurposed.

Equipment at the new facility will also have the capability to serve as the source of off-grid electrical power that will allow the Plaza microgrid to be expanded into a larger community-based system for downtown Albany under NYSERDA’s NY Prize Competition. A feasibility study was completed in July 2016 as part of the NYSERDA NY Prize Competition and additional funding was recently awarded to conduct detailed engineering design and business plans for this future expansion project.

The New York State Office of General Services and the New York Power Authority are partnering on the design and construction of the new 16 megawatt combined heat and power system that will act as a microgrid to power all buildings in the Plaza, including Corning Tower, agency buildings, the Egg, the New York State Museum, the Legislative Office Building and the Justice Building, and others. NYPA will oversee the design and construction process, which is expected to begin in late 2017 and completed by the end of 2019.

OGS will finance the project and will save $25 million by avoiding replacement costs of the current aging emergency power system. The project will be supported by $2.5 million in funding from NYSERDA. Request for Proposals for the project has been issued by NYPA and is currently being reviewed by pre-qualified developers. Project costs will be established by responses to the RFP. Proposals are due to NYPA on July 13 with awards expected to be announced in the fall. The project is also subject to the State Environmental Quality Review process.

The new microgrid is the latest in a series of energy-saving and energy efficiency improvements that the two state entities have completed together in recent years at the Plaza. This planned upgrade is one more example of the Governor’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan to a statewide energy system that is clean, resilient and affordable for all New Yorkers.

New York State Energy and Finance Chair Richard Kauffman said, “Microgrids are an important component in how we are going to modernize our energy infrastructure. 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.”

NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said, “The Office of General Services has been a long-time partner with NYPA in improving energy efficiency in state buildings and this latest project at the Empire State Plaza is the pinnacle of those dedicated efforts. Through projects like this, we are investing in our capital’s infrastructure and simultaneously improving energy efficiency, reducing energy costs, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. This project is a great example of Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan in action. Under the Governor’s leadership, we are implementing smart projects like this one that make our energy production more reliable and efficient.”

OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito said, “Reducing our energy footprint has long been a priority for OGS, and since 1990 we have reduced our overall energy consumption by 41.6 percent including projects under Governor Cuomo’s BuildSmartNY program. Current projects underway including co-generation and the microgrid will allow OGS to exceed Governor Cuomo’s 20 percent energy reduction target by 2020. We are extremely excited to engage in the microgrid project with our partners at NYPA and NYSERDA. When complete, it will provide vital emergency power and help reduce our energy use even further.”

NYSERDA President and CEO John B. Rhodes said, “The Empire State Plaza microgrid will provide critical power when needed most during extreme weather events and allow the local community a place of refuge. This project can serve as an innovative clean energy model which can be replicated across the State by other communities. Governor Cuomo has made it a priority to modernize our energy infrastructure by ensuring reliability and resiliency are built into a cleaner energy system that can serve communities across the State.”

Senator Neil Breslin said, "I commend the efforts this partnership has put forth to reduce carbon emissions. It is a great day for the State of New York when a cost-effective, energy efficient and environmentally conscious improvement can be identified and implemented."

Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "The new Empire State Plaza microgrid signals a significant step towards greater energy efficiency for New York and the Capital Region. In addition to the significant environmental benefits of the new microgrid, its ability to continue to operate in the case of a larger power outage will help protect New Yorkers’ access to state services in emergency situations. I applaud NYPA, OGS, and Governor Cuomo for their commitment to reducing emissions and completing this milestone project."

Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "I commend Governor Andrew Cuomo, OGS and NYPA for collaborating on this innovative project that will introduce new technology while saving on the cost to produce energy at the Empire State Plaza. If we are to reduce carbon emission and reduce the output of greenhouse gases, we must embrace these initiatives."

This project builds on the significant progress already made by OGS in reducing its overall energy imprint through the Governor’s BuildSmartNY energy efficiency initiative for public buildings. The agency is also making headway in meeting the Governor’s Executive Order 88, which calls for a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption by all state agencies by 2020. To date, OGS has worked with NYPA to implement energy efficiency improvements at the Ten Eyck State Office Building, the W. Averell Harriman State Office Building Campus, the Suffolk State Office Building, the Executive Mansion, the Senator Hughes State Office Building in Syracuse, and the Eleanor Roosevelt State Office Building in Poughkeepsie, to name a few.

About Reforming the Energy Vision

Reforming the Energy Vision is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York's economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency, in support of the recently adopted Clean Energy Standard, which requires that 50 percent of the state's electricity needs be generated from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven 800 percent growth in the statewide solar market, enabled over 105,000 low-income households to permanently cut their energy bills with energy efficiency, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York State reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally-recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor's $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, please visit www.ny.gov/REV4NY and follow us at @Rev4NY.

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