NY Invests in Smart Grid Technologies

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced US$4.3 million in awards to researchers.
Published: Tue 11 Mar 2014

To cope with today’s changing environment and growing consumption needs, New York is investing in innovative smart grid technologies. The idea is to develop innovative methods to enable the addition of renewables to the grid, improve grid performance, reduce environmental impacts and energy consumption, and lower transmission costs.

Rebuilding the grid

As part of the city’s efforts to rebuild its vital infrastructure for a changing climate, it is investing in smart grid projects to advance new and emerging technologies that will help make the electric grid more resilient and efficient. The Governor points out that this investment will help provide “more reliable and affordable services and further re-imagine New York’s electric grid for a new reality.”

The projects awarded were funded from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Electric Power Transmission and Distribution Smart Grid Program. To qualify for funding, recipients had to propose projects that improve the reliability, efficiency, quality, and overall performance of New York’s grid.

The development of smart grid technologies is a goal of the Energy Highway initiative, which was designed to upgrade New York’s energy grid.

New York’s grid is long overdue for an upgrade. This investment will plough much needed money into an infrastructure which is coming under increasing pressure to stay resilient in the face of renewables integration, increasing consumption due to technology-rich lifestyles, inefficiency of buildings and power plants, as well as devastating superstorms.

Ageing infrastructure can’t cope

New York (and in fact most of the US) simply does not have the infrastructure to support today’s high consumption habits. The US is expected to see a 29% growth in electricity demand between now and 2030. The city is buckling under a consumption rate which continues to grow at a rate of nearly two percent a year.

This is equivalent to an additional annual load of 200MW-enough to power nearly a quarter million homes or a medium-size city. The current grid is reaching a physical threshold and it cannot be expanded as there is simply no more room. This is a major problem for a city which guzzles power.

Storms take their toll

The strained grid is also unable to withstand the growing effects of climate change. The new reality in New York is that they are being hit by 100 year storms every couple of years. New York has suffered nine presidentially declared disasters in the three years since Governor Cuomo took office. A key theme of the state's rebuilding program is that extreme weather is a new reality.

Much of the critical infrastructure in New York City —transit and electric systems in particular—is built underground and is susceptible to seawater. On Long Island, communities, power systems, wastewater systems, and fuel terminals are built along the coastline. In Upstate New York, communities and infrastructure are often built along waterways which are vulnerable to severe flooding.

A political wake up call

The Governor has realized that it is time to completely transform the way in which the infrastructure is built and protected. In addition to this, energy supplies must be safeguarded and citizens should be prepared for these storms and its devastating effects.

To achieve its renewables goal and provide better energy security, the city of New York’s industry leaders realize that the power system needs energy storage solutions. The city is following California’s example (of prioritizing energy storage) by positioning itself as a world leader in energy storage technology. The Governor has recently announced a US$23 million public-private investment to build a battery storage test and commercialization center. We cover this in our article, California’s Energy Storage Mandate-Will Others Follow? .

The Governor points out that it is time to “wake up to that new reality by completely reimagining our state to be ready for any future disaster.