red hook community microgrid



The Red Hook Community Microgrid seeks to be a state-wide and national model of how a waterfront community can create a net-positive environmental future with a strong low-carbon based economic engine spearheading new market development and new workforce opportunities. All facilities being considered for the RH-CMG are within the Red Hook Community as defined by the boundaries of the
RH-NYR-CRP process. The overall vision of the RH-CMG reaches wide and seeks to address two pressing issues in the community – energy based resiliency and jobs.

The Red Hook community is located in Brooklyn Community Board 6, bounded by the BQE to the east, the ButterMilk Channel to the North and West, and the Gowanus Canal and Hamilton Parkway to the north. Access to Red Hook is provided by: the NYC MTA B61; 15-minute walk from the NYC MTA G/F subway stops at Carroll Gardens or Smith/Ninth Street; driving via the Atlantic Ave or Hamilton
Ave exits off the BQE; ferry service via the Ikea Ferry leaving Manhattan from Pier 11 Slip A 2pm to 8pm on weekdays and 11.30am to 9pm on weekends; or bicycle. The RH-CMG Feasibility Study Area, spanning 1.3 square miles and including approx.12,400 residents, is a dynamic mixed-use neighborhood with a unique character and discernible small-town feel. Notable community features include prominent industrial, manufacturing, and maritime assets along with growing mixed-use commercial corridors, a wealth of open space, and a diverse population comprised of both new and longtime residents. The neighborhood’s character is framed by the historic significance and evolving composition of its working waterfront, peninsular nature, and relative isolation from the rest of Brooklyn due to the Gowanus Expressway. This project seeks to serve beyond providing power resiliency but to also create a platform for a stronger community network and strengthen community bonds.

The feasibility study evaluation goals are:
1. to determine the best low-carbon microgrid solution for this community using innovative financing structures and business models to achieve socially beneficial and financeable solutions,
2. to create resilient dependable emergency power. This includes determining critical loads, their priority, an appropriate distributed control microgrid controller architecture, and the range of possible clean distributed energy resources to satisfy emergency power provision while islanded, and maximizing clean energy while interconnected to the grid. For the mix of microgrid distributed generation, the project participants will pursue maximizing clean renewable energy with a particular focus on solar power generation possibly supported with innovative battery energy storage technology. Alternatively it may consider wind, geothermal or natural gas powered systems if more applicable (e.g. fuel cells, micro CHP), and waste-to-energy (currently in feasibility study phase at GBX Terminal). The project participants preliminary goal is to have 100% clean and renewable energy. Smarter Grid Solutions has proven commercial experience working with utilities to massively increase the grid hosting capacity for clean energy via autonomous and deterministic control solutions, and will include in its assessment the use of innovative Active Network Management technologies to support this goal.

The project participants will coordinate with NYCHA and GBX Terminal for additional potential generation (seeking additional funding outside of this proposal) that could join the mix of microgrid generation. Feasibility assessments are already underway for their respective systems and their letter of support indicates their agreement to work with Smarter Grid Solutions to consider the technical feasibility of interconnecting to the microgrid. In addition, existing generation assets that will be evaluated to contribute to the mix of microgrid generation include IKEA’s solar PV system along with their emergency generator, Added Value’s 10kW solar array, Linda Tool and Die’s 20kW solar powered Resilient Power Hub to be installed through the NYC EDC RISE:NYC grant; the Addabbo Center’s back-up generator being funded through the RH-NYR-CRP projects; the Miccio Center and South Brooklyn currently in selection process to be studied for back up generation as part of the NY Rising Resilient Community Network facilities.

Financial benefits: The Project Team will look to see how financial opportunities that support the Red Hook community can be connected to the design and implementation of the project. Recent developments such as the NY State Green Bank, the RH-NYR-CPR Community Development Financial Institution, and Solarize Brooklyn CB6, could all provide low-interest rate funding for the private sector side participation. Leveraging the NY Prize contribution, the team will evaluate different funding and financing options to potentially broaden the scope of the project and help implement Red Hook Community’s vision of a reliable low-carbon energy supply. In addition, lowering utility bills for property owners through efficiency upgrades, and clean energy grid-tied investment paybacks will create meaningful sustainable financial opportunities for RH-CMG participants and their organizations.

Utility system benefits: We will consider utilizing utility cables and equipment in the feasibility study and will work with Con Edison as to their feasibility. Moreover by considering Active Network Management (ANM) technologies for increased grid hosting capacity for clean energy, Smarter Grid Solutions will consider these innovative technologies for targeting smart grid deployments for
locational grid modernization for massive distributed energy resource deployments. ANM technologies autonomously and deterministically maintain the grid’s reliability and safety at a fraction of the cost of traditional grid reinforcement that deployment at this level would have normally triggered. Utility benefits therefore might include targeted and scalable smart grid upgrades for increased clean energy
hosting, faster and cheaper interconnection of intermittent renewable energy, deferral of T&D upgrades, load relief, dispatchable autonomous demand response, and dispatchable ancillary services resources (e.g. reactive power, frequency dispatch, etc.). ANM technology platforms are scalable, and therefore simplify interconnecting additional clean generation. Specific community microgrid benefits include autonomous sectionalizing of microgrid participants for area power network reliability (e.g. load relief) and the ability to maintain power for microgrid participants in the event of an emergency area power outage. The creation of this microgrid will not reduce the grid reliability of non-microgrid participants.

Project beneficiaries: First and foremost, the beneficiaries are to be the residents and local businesses of Red Hook. In daily practice and during the event of power failures, ensuring the well-being and safety of our citizens is paramount. Providing consistent power to the facilities whose organizations are dedicated to ensuring provision in times of need creates a system of local emergency management – central to Red Hook’s resiliency goals. Because of this driving principle the primary selected buildings target the Ready Red Hook Emergency Preparedness Plan, critical facilities, and the NYCHA Red Hook Houses. The Ready Red Hook Community Emergency Preparedness Plan is among one of the first of its kind in NYC and the country, and is currently hosted by Brooklyn Community Board 6. This plan is extensive and follows the protocol of OEM, preparing the community to withstand 72 hours after an event before major service providers and government agencies are on the ground. Incorporating the NYCHA Red Hook Houses is also a critical component; this vulnerable low-income residential population is included in the benefit analysis. The RH-CMG’s incorporation of the work under way by NYCHA allows for a deep community connection between the various populations and serves to strengthen the ties. In addition, are benefits at the city and regional scale; reducing Red Hook’s carbon footprint NYC’s One City, Built to Last plan which seeks to achieve 80 percent savings over 2005 levels by 2050. Utility non-microgrid ratepayers will benefit from having ANM technologies piloted and tested to assess their utilization for grid modernization under high distributed energy resource and microgrid deployment scenarios. ANM technologies – proven in Europe and underutilized in North America – enable massive clean energy grid interconnection at a fraction of the cost of traditional grid reinforcement while also efficiently using existing assets, and as such are cost effective targeted smart grid enabling technologies that minimize ratepayer impacts while also supporting huge increases in clean energy.

Red Hook experiences non-storm related power quality/reliability issues: The Red Hook community experiences power outages more frequently than most of the NYC grid. The current grid in Red Hook is vulnerable due to several factors and outages are experienced on an annual basis: above-ground lines are exposed and hang low making them vulnerable to truck traffic and large scale equipment that drive through this industrial community, as well as heavy winds, snow and ice storms. Old transformers are also exposed to the exterior elements and have exploded as recently as February of this year, one on Van Brunt Street and one on Richards Street. Salt intrusion into below ground lines has caused outages, as recently as March of this year on two blocks of Van Brunt Street and King Street, and a downed power line on April 29th of this year caused many blocks to be out of power for over an hour. Superstorm Sandy’s inundating waters have corroded many power lines throughout the neighborhood, although these have not been repaired or replaced. Many residences have reported flickering of lights under normal weather conditions.

Innovative engineering, technology and financial solutions: Piloting and testing Active Network Management in New York wil demonstrate the potential for these innovative technologies for dramatically increasing clean distributed generation. Furthermore and given how these technologies represent lternatives to traditional grid reinforcement, they would inform the on-going REV process for considering alternative revenues for electric utilities, enable higher customer/end-user participation in DG eployments, and under microgrid operation begin to demonstrate DER-to-DER models for animated customer markets t residential and commercial scales. Financial evaluation will include cost-benefits and commercial viability, and to the extent feasible will likewise include a high-level risk assessment, consider project structuring alternatives (e.g. public-private partnerships), and develop funding, financing and contracting solutions.

Critical loads assessment: As a part of the feasibility study, facility critical loads, their priority, and their provision for the 72 hour microgrid island period will be evaluated. Initial goals are to ensure that critical components are powered at all times, such as: interior lighting, refrigeration, computer servers, communications systems including the Red Hook Commination’s HUB, machinery required for emergency services (such as medical supplies). In addition, public spaces will be assessed for exterior safety lighting, street lights, and cell phone charging fixtures. The Project Team’s focus is on community microgrid technologies that are autonomous and deterministic and as such priority load/circuit provision will match the community microgrid principles of load and/or generation curtailment determined during the study.

The RH-CMG plan is supported (and not dependent on) by other community efforts: The project is an outgrowth of on-going planning processes and current resiliency projects, but it is in no way dependent upon them for implementation. The foundation for the RH-CMG proposal is the RH-NYR-CRP Committee’s work, the Ready Red Hook Community Emergency Preparedness Plan, and the Solarize Brooklyn CB6 program. In addition, the integration of existing and proposed power generation sources (such as the NYPA NYCHA Red Hook Houses Microgrid Feasibility Study, GBX Terminal Waste-to-Power (food waste) Feasibility Study) will strengthen the overall project. But the microgrid functionality, design, implementation and mix of generation is not dependent and could be realized independently.

RH-CMG ownership, maintenance, and control: As a part of the feasibility study, the Project Team will explore, at minimum, the following three possible microgrid ownership and operation structures: 1. In-part or in whole ownership and/or operation by Con Edison due to including the possible use of Con Edison assets within the microgrid 2. If ConEdision partnering proves unfeasible, the Project
Team will consider special purpose entity ownership and operation of the microgrid 3. A cooperative ownership model incorporating the Red Hook Community and selected stakeholders. Competitive procurement process are intended for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the RH-CMG.

About Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY: Red Hook is a unique community and is comprised of three Census Tracts, 53, 59, and 85. The residential population of Red Hook is diverse: 40% of Red Hook residents identified their race as White, 36% as Black, and 3% as Asian. 40% also report Hispanic ethnicity. Income and associated resources vary significantly across Red Hook. As of 2010, median income within Red Hook Houses was 33% of the New York City median, while as a whole Red Hook’s median income was 47% of citywide median income. The vast majority of Red Hook residents rent their homes. Only 12% of housing units in Red Hook are owner-occupied. This is driven by the Red Hook Houses, which accounts for about 54% of the occupied rental units in Red Hook. The Red Hook Houses is the largest public housing in Brooklyn with 2,878 apartments and the second largest in New York City. The 6,956 official residents living in the NYCHA Red Hook Houses are low-income, comprising over two-thirds of Red Hook’s population. Among private housing only, the owner-occupancy rate rises to 34%, which is above the citywide and Kings County averages of 23% and 28%, respectively. While 60% of all units (including those within Red Hook Houses) are in medium to large apartment buildings, about 36% are in row houses containing two or more units, with the remainder comprised of single-family homes. Red Hook’s buildings are notably historic, with 80% of units built before 1960 and 50% before 1940. Red Hook is also defined by the character and type of its business community. Residential uses comprise just over 10% of Red Hook’s land area. Industrial and manufacturing comprise more than 30% of the total land area; retail, office, open space, and parking/transportation/ utility uses each occupy approximately 10% of the area; and the remaining 20% of the Planning Area is occupied by vacant land and other uses. Connecting critical power to energy efficiency and broader Red Hook resiliency: Beyond critical power alone, energy efficiency is seen by the Project Team to be an important aspect of ensuring a cost-effective implementation and a low-carbon system design. Currently there are no existing efficiency programs in place in the community, but as part of the RH-CMG implementation we are incorporating the following: 1. As part of the feasibility study engineering audits, Smarter Grid Solutions will carry out ASHRAE Level 2 energy audits to identify potential energy efficiency projects that the facility owners could undertake. These energy audits will be submitted to the building owners along with a simple cost-benefit analysis describing the benefits to implementing measures such as LED lighting, daylighting, and lighting controls, high efficiency HVAC systems, LED exterior lighting, insulation measures, and other cost effective energy conservation measures. 2. The RH-NYR-CRP CDFI revolving loan program and the NYR Resilient Community Center Network project will incorporate a Resiliency Audit that will incorporate energy efficiency measures – buildings selected for the RH-CMG will be required to submit a Resiliency Audit.

Project barriers: The Project Team recognizes that community microgrids are complex and, in many cases, emergency power systems are prohibitively expensive due to a variety of power grid and facility issues. By working with Con Edison during the feasibility study and by considering innovative clean energy interconnection technologies, the Project Team believes they are considering the most economic and effective approach to community microgrids. The team will also work closely with regulators on anticipated regulatory and policy barriers. The Project Team moreover sees the implementation of this project to go beyond the initial funding phase of the NY Prize. A barrier is therefore the gap in funding between what is needed overall (estimated to be between $20–40 million) and the initial NY Prize funds. Competition funding for implementation will serve as a catalyst with which to leverage additional funding sources to carry out the full plan and vision. The RH-NYR-CRP Committee is well aware of the funding limitations and this gap, which is why they have selected to bring on board as a primary partner in the project IMG Rebel Group to leverage their infrastructure financing expertise

Project scalability or replication: This project supports and unites RH-NYR-CRP goals to help other communities become more resilient in the future. Ms. Nandan, co-chair of the RH-NYR-CRP Committee, recently attended the Municipal Art Society’s Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Conference, meeting with 30 world wide leaders in resiliency, where it was made clear that microgrids can be a viable solution and an important component to resiliency building in cities across the globe. Red Hook can serve as a case study for both New York City communities as well as innercity residential microgrids worldwide. In addition, working NYCHA., one of the largest property owners in NYC, will provide for an understanding of how NYCHA can have greater impact in their surrounding neighborhoods across the city.

Another important part of this project is education, visibility, and implementation. Making resiliency and science visible as an educational tool is a critical factor not only in the success of the RH-CMG but in the success of knowledge sharing and knowledge co-production. The Project Team aims to make our project a proud part of the Red Hook Community with an active website tracking the design, construction, and on-going resiliency metrics. In addition, RH-NYR-CRP committee will provide tours to tours to RH residents and students and visitors to the neighborhood, and provide educational material to local teachers.

The project seeks to incorporate job training throughout the process and particularly in the implementation phase. We have brought in two experts in this field, Grid Alternatives, and Green City Force. Each organization has provided a Letter of Support and are excited to participate. Green City Force, a non-profit organization that provides training and work experience in the clean energy economy will be shadowing Smarter Grid Solutions during the Energy Audit phase with their Clean Energy Corps. In addition, we foresee tying this project to other initiatives being undertaken by the NYC EDC Clean Tech programming, and a Resilient Job Training Facility in the planning phases for Red Hook.


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