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NY PrizeThe first ever Statewide Winter Energy Tour just wrapped up. It was a resounding success with 900 New Yorkers learning more about how the State’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan is helping communities across the state with access to a cleaner and more reliable and affordable energy system. As part of REV, community microgrids play an important part in giving customers more control over their energy consumption. They also promote distributed energy solutions and can help improve system efficiency.

The NY Prize competition, which just launched, was a focus of the Statewide Winter Energy Tour. Local governments, businesses, residential customers and community groups are encouraged to pull together and submit a proposal outlining how they are collaborating on efforts to generate energy where it’s consumed.

“The Energy Tour was a great first step in dialogue. Now it’s our job to put that conversation into action and help communities achieve their goals,” NY Prize Director Micah Kotch said. “There are some really compelling reasons to build local energy projects, and the NY Prize competition is a platform where electric utilities, local governments, citizens, and third party project developers are excited about getting to work.”

The NY Prize team has outlined key steps to consider before you submit the RFP response for Phase I feasibility study.

STEP 1: Assemble a NY Prize project team

Your team should include those who will be the potential generators and recipients of the power from the designed microgrid, such as commercial/industrial enterprises, low-to-moderate income populations and others situated within roughly a half-mile radius. Other participants within a project proposal could include industrial users with high demand for heat or cooling, schools, low-to-moderate income tenants associations, retail/institutional customers, and non-profit organizations.

Community microgrids should serve at least two customers, with at least one of those customers being a vital community asset such as a firehouse or hospital. Kotch recommends checking out the PACE Energy and Climate Center Community Microgrids publication for more guidance and an actionable sequence for outreach. If you’re looking for energy engineering consulting firms to help you with feasibility, we’ve assembled a list of certified Flextech consultants with microgrid experience on the NY Prize website.

STEP 2: Educate and organize key community stakeholders

While it depends on the project, key community stakeholders include local officials, business leaders, building owners and tenant associations. Are there organizations in your community who have installed solar or combined heat and power systems? These organizations are great to enlist and ask questions of. It’s imperative that the local utility and local municipality also be involved. Setting up one-on-one meetings will allow the project team to explain the benefits of the proposed microgrid and educate others on NYSERDA’s support for the feasibility process. Your local NYSERDA Regional Outreach Coordinators are a great resource for technical assistance. Other educational resources can be found here.

STEP 3: Identify project sites and set project goals

A great way to get started on identifying a good potential site for a community microgrid is checking out our Opportunity Zone map. However, every community in New York State is eligible for NY Prize and your project doesn’t have to be located in one of the opportunity zones to apply. Talking with your local utility point-of-contact, local municipal officials and emergency management officials also will help determine potential locations where a community microgrid can provide energy savings, reliability, environmental benefits or attract investors and tenants due to high power reliability and quality. Keep in mind, there must be at least one facility providing critical public services to the community in the mix of participating customers.

Microgrids offer enhanced local grid reliability, providing a degree of local resiliency against extreme weather events that cause blackouts, as well as lowering energy prices and associated greenhouse emissions.

STEP 4: Submit RFP for a feasibility study

First and foremost, be sure that you’ve included all the pre-requisites required of your project proposal. Project proposals are due May 15. Many of the pre-requisites should already have been identified and completed by following our earlier steps.

Other aspects that must be included in your proposal include:

  • The proposal checklist.
  • A summary of the proposed project, team members, community microgrid systems-related problem or opportunity, proposed solutions and the potential energy, environmental and economic benefits to New York State.
  • A detailed description of the project, which would include the project’s purpose/need, the intended use and the public benefits expected to result from the project.

For a step-by-step check list of everything that must be included in your proposal, be sure to read the RFP. All completed submissions will be made public through our Opportunity Zone map so as to enable project developers and others to help bring good projects to life.

We’ll be accepting proposals electronically on a rolling basis through May 15.