CUNY Wins Department Of Energy Award to Spur Solar Electric Systems For Emergency Power During Power Outages in New York

January 30, 2015

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday that the City University of New York (CUNY) has won an $860,000 award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Initiative Solar Market Pathways to support the growth of resilient solar electric systems that can supply clean, emergency power and provide energy storage during electricity outages, by enabling the systems to work independently of the grid.

The award is for the NYSolar Smart Distributed Generation (DG) Hub – Resilient Solar Project, which is also supported by the State’s NY-Sun initiative and with City funds. Developed by CUNY, the three-year project will create a roadmap for the integration and tracking of resilient solar systems, conduct analysis for deploying resilient solar electric systems on designated critical infrastructure facilities, and provide a calculator for public use. NYC Media ReleaseDOE Media Release

The Smart DG Hub supports the de Blasio administration’s much larger focus on resiliency and sustainability at CUNY and beyond.

Through Mayor de Blasio’s One City: Built to Last plan, the City is allocating funding to CUNY to continue the NYC Solar Partnership, which develops and implements comprehensive plans for large-scale solar integration and associated economic development around the city. Through the One City plan, NYC Solar Partnership is also focused on increasing resiliency for communities by identifying targeted solar installations around grid independence and battery storage. Additionally, the City’s comprehensive resiliency plan recommended supporting distributed generation and microgrids in order to ensure more resilient power supplies. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency are working closely with CUNY, and today’s grant furthers these goals.

“We know that climate change is an existential threat to New York City and our planet—and we need to prepare for its risks, while reducing our contributions to its causes,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Smart DG Hub is another big step toward a more sustainable, more resilient New York, supporting clean energy that can be used when we need it most. CUNY’s role is key as New York City sets the pace with our sweeping green buildings plan and commitment to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and we look forward to continuing to work with partners like the U.S. Department of Energy and the State.”

The DG Hub is designed to achieve a more resilient distributed energy system in New York State. The project will initially be focused in New York City and later expand statewide. With additional funding from New York Power Authority (NYPA), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), CUNY and a private foundation, the project totals almost $1.2 million. The award supports the mission of the SunShot Initiative, which is to drive down the cost of solar electricity, so that it becomes fully cost-competitive with traditional energy sources.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it was determined that while the 672 solar arrays on NYC rooftops at that time sustained little or no damage during the storm, they were unable to supply critically needed power during the subsequent outage. New York State now has more than 18,000 solar electric systems and is one of the fastest growing solar markets in America, yet there are few known systems with battery storage in NYC or the State.

A roadmap for resilient solar and a solar calculator with resiliency components made available to the public will significantly impact the solar markets in the city and the State by addressing, for the first time, the integration of resilient solar systems and the critical role they can play in supplying emergency power, as well as peak shaving and load shifting. The Smart DG Hub-Resilient Solar Project will offer lessons learned and guidance to other urban communities across New York State and provide a replicable national model.

“In addition to implementing multiple New York solar programs, several CUNY campuses serve as coastal storm shelters, positioning CUNY to lead the integration of solar energy technology into resiliency measures,” said City University of New York Chancellor James B. Milliken. “CUNY is proud to be working with the City and State to develop the critical pathways that can help provide citizens with resilient energy options and enable further job creation in our growing solar market.”

The Smart DG Hub Resilient- Solar Project is a collaborative partnership among Sustainable CUNY, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Meister Consulting Group, and funding partners New York Power Authority (NYPA), and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

“I’m pleased the Department of Energy has recognized New York State’s groundbreaking reforms to build a more resilient, reliable energy system,” said John B. Rhodes, President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). “The DOE-funded NYSolar Smart Distributed Generation (DG) Hub – Resilient Solar Project will help further Governor Cuomo’s energy priorities to increase clean, local power generation to take pressure off the grid, help solar installations operate during grid outages and make electricity more affordable for all New Yorkers.”

“It is critically important that we continue to expand New York State’s renewable energy portfolio,” said Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and chief executive officer. “NYPA, working closely with NYSERDA and the Governor’s office, is a staunch supporter of the NY-Sun initiative, which strives to increase solar technology deployment throughout the state. This project is a pivotal next step in utilizing solar energy for the strengthening of the electric grid.”

Other partners include the NYC Mayor’s Office, NYC Economic Development Corporation, Consolidated Edison, National Grid, the NYC Department of Buildings, the Fire Department of NYC, the NYC Office of Emergency Management, New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST), the Solar Energy Power Association and the Electric Power Research Institute.

A Smart DG Hub Industry Advisory Board comprised of installation companies, battery manufacturers, and inverter companies, including General Electric, SunPower, First Solar, Princeton Power and SMA, has been formed to assist in providing subject matter expertise to the project.

The Resilient Solar Roadmap will include a pathway to integrating several tiers of resiliency from immediate measures, such as retrofitting existing systems with inverters that offer “daylight emergency power,” to more complex forms of resiliency, such as large demonstration projects for solar electric systems with storage on critical infrastructure.

The resiliency components in the NYS Solar Calculator will help capture, for the first time, the full spectrum of financial benefits of solar systems with battery storage and provide decision makers with the necessary tools to make educated investments. Beyond supplying emergency power, resilient PV systems can play a critical energy-saving role in peak shaving and load shifting when the grid is constrained or when consumers are anticipating heavy energy usage. In addition, as larger resilient solar systems with storage are installed, a process will be established that will enable the tracking of these systems to better inform utility and city planners.