New York Communities Awarded $100,000 Grants to Explore Alternative Energy Sources

The first stage of funding will go toward studies that will assess the feasibility of launching microgrids.

by Ted Booker, Watertown Daily Times / July 9, 2015

(TNS) -- Seven communities in the North Country region of New York have been awarded $100,000 grants through the NY Prize Community Microgrid Competition, enabling them to explore ways to go off the main electrical grid by tapping into other energy sources.

Studies for microgrid projects are planned at the Jefferson County Corporate Park, town of Watertown; village of Carthage; town of Canton; village of Croghan; village of Malone; SUNY Plattsburgh, city of Plattsburgh and town of Chateaugay.

The grants were part of awards announced Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for 83 communities in the first of the three-stage NY Prize competition, which is administered by the state Energy Research and Development Authority. The first stage of funding will go toward studies that will assess the feasibility of launching microgrids. A microgrid is a small-scale power grid with renewable energy sources that can run independently or in conjunction with the main electrical grid.

During the second and third stages of the competition, communities will have a chance to be awarded additional funding to design and build microgrids.

The study planned at the Jefferson County Corporate Park off outer Coffeen Street, which is operated by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, will explore whether there is demand among manufacturers and other facilities to participate as stakeholders in a microgrid project. The JCIDA will hire Rochester energy consultant Entecco LLC to complete the study. The study will explore whether a microgrid that would include a mix of renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and natural gas could be feasible.

Among others, manufacturers at the park that could receive power from a proposed microgrid are North American Tapes, Timeless Frames, Allied Motion, Aviagen and Henderson Manufacturing. Other sites that could receive power are the Town of Watertown Fire District Station 3 at the corporate park and Jefferson Community College off Coffeen Street.

The JCIDA also has planned the microgrid study in the village of Carthage, which will be completed by Booz Allen Hamilton, a Washington, D.C.-based technology consulting firm. To be potentially powered by a mix of renewable sources, including biomass and hydropower, the proposed microgrid would mainly serve manufacturers in the villages of Carthage and West Carthage. It also could include municipal buildings, Carthage Area Hospital and facilities of the Carthage Central School District.

David J. Zembiec, deputy CEO of the JCIDA, said studies recently have started for projects in the town of Watertown and village of Carthage. He said they are expected to be completed by the fall, when applications for additional NY Prize funding may be submitted.

“The idea is to have information ready to submit for the NY Prize round in September, which would be for the money to design projects,” Mr. Zembiec said Wednesday, adding that he believes both projects will come to fruition. “We’re optimistic these projects will provide reliable and affordable power to the communities and build some resiliency into their energy-distribution structures.”

The microgrid planned in the town of Canton would serve an array of municipal buildings owned by the village, town and county. Others sites that could receive power include St. Lawrence University, SUNY Canton, Canton Central School District, the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services and Canton-Potsdam Hospital. The proposed microgrid would be powered by an array of sources that would include solar and biomass.

The village of Croghan has partnered with the Development Authority of the North Country and other stakeholders to plan a microgrid to support municipal facilities in the community. The village’s proposed microgrid could provide power to several municipal buildings. It would be powered by newly installed hydroelectric generators at a renovated dam and a solar array.

More information on the NY Prize microgrid competition is available at www.nyserda.ny.gov/ny-prize.

©2015 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Platforms & Programs